By Colin Nelson
At last it's here; the data from AACSB International's annual Business School Questionnaire (BSQ) has just been released for the 2012-13 survey year. As many regular readers of this blog probably know by now, the BSQ provides thousands of data points from the hundreds of AACSB member schools that participate each year, and thus contributes in a large way to making AACSB's DataDirect platform the world's most comprehensive database on business schools.
Although it's not generally hard to find interesting data from the BSQ on which to report, it's nice when our data are able to clarify popular perceptions of current developments in the management education industry. One interesting trend that the past ten years' worth of BSQ data shows us is that although the mean operating budget per faculty member has risen more or less steadily over that time, there is a widening gap between the amounts when considering full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty numbers, versus those of solely full-time faculty:
Figure 1. Mean Operating Budget per Faculty Member (USD)
Figure 1 shows the mean operating budget per faculty member for all worldwide participants in the given year. While the figure is (necessarily) always higher when only full-time faculty are considered versus when FTE faculty are considered, the amount of gap between the two averages has grown by approximately 119% over the past ten years. Just to be certain that response bias wasn't the (entire) cause of this finding, I also checked the figures for a controlled set of AACSB member schools who participated in the BSQ in each of the last ten years:
Figure 2. Mean Operating Budget per Faculty Member (USD), Controlled Set
Source: AACSB BSQ. Controlled set includes 326 U.S.-based schools that participated in the BSQ in all ten years.
Even here, though not so pronounced as in the uncontrolled set, the gap between average budget figures per faculty member widens significantly over the past ten years, in this case by over 55%. So what might explain this finding?
One could argue that what we are seeing here is the effect of increasing employment of part-time faculty members. Anecdotally, much has been said about this practice; however, BSQ faculty data over the same time period indicate that the increase in the mean number of FTE faculty reported has outpaced that of full-time faculty by only 3.9% in the uncontrolled set, and by only 0.2% in the controlled set. Clearly then, the increase in employment of part-time faculty members is not the only factor here.
In order to compete in an increasingly global marketplace for management education, business schools are under pressure to expand their operations, in the form of increased program offerings, more program delivery options, greater research output, etc., all of which require greater commitment of faculty time and resources. I would venture that my findings indicate that even though the mean operating budget figure may be increasing, it is not keeping pace with this increased pressure to expand business school operations. As a result, business schools are being forced to spread their operating budgets further as they simultaneously rely more heavily on part-time faculty for some of their activities.