A new school year is beginning in much of the northern hemisphere, bringing new faces across campuses -- and not just in the classrooms and student lounges. As the number of updates to our database will attest (about 80 changes to member schools' dean's offices, or equivalent, have been logged since June!), many schools formally welcome new leadership at this time of year.
It's thus an appropriate time to take a look at some data about dean searches. To do so, we turn to job postings listed through BizSchoolJobs, AACSB's online job board for business school careers. The data show a clear and interesting trend: a growing proportion of schools appear to be using recruiter firms to help fill this key leadership position.
Positions posted to BizSchoolJobs represent only a subset of all dean searches, so we should be careful about drawing too strong a set of conclusions. And it is worth noting that a majority of schools in this set still are not engaging external firms to assist the search process.
Nevertheless, assuming the trend here holds true on a wider scale, it raises some interesting questions as to why this shift is occurring. Is the competition to fill these critical positions getting tougher, requiring outside expertise? Or is competition among schools leading to higher turnover, and hence more frequent searches that schools don't have the resources to support? (A study of dean turnover described by former Academy of Management President Jim Walsh in his recent presidential address suggests a correlation between heightened rates of turnover and the school's position "on the cusp" of being ranked as a top-tier school.)
Alternatively, perhaps business schools are simply becoming more confident in the ability of professional search firms to understand the nuances of executive searches for the academic environment, to reach a broader range of potential candidates, or to serve as a confidential intermediary. Thoughts?