Business schools must teach broader skills such as entrepreneurial thinking, rather than just the specialised business knowledge traditionally taught at university, according to research from the Australian Business Deans Council.
The Future of Management Education report, released last week, argues the value of a modern business degree rests on skilling graduates with broad boundary-crossing skills of collaboration, problem solving and entrepreneurial thinking.
Professor Roy Green, the director of the project and Dean of the University of Technology Sydney, told SmartCompany entrepreneurial thinking is essential for the future of the economy, in which Australia must find new sources of growth in the aftermath of the mining boom.
“We have to find news sources of growth and productivity in non-mining sector,” says Green.
Green says while some of this new growth will come from existing large companies, much will come from start-ups powered by entrepreneurial thinking.
“Entrepreneurial thinking is a critical skill for business schools to develop,” says Green, who points to the importance such thinking played in the wake of the global recession.
Green says from the point of view of students, many graduates want to develop these skills so they can work for themselves.
“Students, in our observations, are less inclined to work for organisations and employers than they are for themselves,” he says. “In many cases, they want to shape their own destiny.”
Green says some traditional business skills will still be important to teach and many of these non-traditional skills will be learnt outside the classroom.
“Much of this cannot be leant form a textbook. It requires experiential learning, learning that enables you to develop your own practical skills in a real world environment.”
Green says business schools would gladly welcome approaches from SMEs that were keen to help shape the next generation of business leaders.
“We want students to go out into the world with as much as experience and requisite skills as we can provide,” says Green.
He says the biggest challenge facing business schools in the future was the financial and regulatory constraints on the university sector and the distorted focus universities place on the publication of research in top-ranked journals, rather than engagement with business and the community.
“That’s not to say that research isn’t important, it’s very important, but it needs to be research that is connected and relevant,” he says.