By Colin Nelson
The AACSB Globalization of Management Education Task Force states on page 211 of its recent report that "connections do not just happen; they require proactive and strategic action by schools" in order for them to get the most out of their globalization efforts. What does this mean for business schools? It means that if they want to reap the greatest benefits of their collaborations for their students, they need to have a plan.
In an effort to keep abreast of the dynamic world of business education, AACSB has developed a survey on business school collaborations to track connections among business schools around the world. AACSB asks its members to provide information about their collaborations, which the survey defines as formal, written agreement between all partners involved in the survey.
In the most recent iteration of AACSB's Collaborations Survey (2009–10), we asked our respondents to indicate whether or not their business school systematically plans its collaborative and international activities, along three dimensions. First, we ask whether or not the business school has a formal written policy on collaborations, whether foreign or domestic. Next, we ask whether or not the school has a formal policy guiding its international activities of any type. Finally, we ask if the school has an office, department, or staff position in place that oversees collaborations and/or international activities.
Out of 249 respondent schools, representing 38 countries around the world, 64.3% reported having at least one of the two types of guiding policies in place, and 61.8% reported having an office, department, or staff position in place that oversees collaborations and/or international activities, whether or not the school indicated such policies were in place.
Seemingly comfortable majorities of the schools responding to the Collaborations Survey are making an effort to create a strategy to guide their globalization efforts. However, when we cut the data by world region, more interesting findings emerge:
Figure 1. Formal Policies by Region
Figure 2. Administration of Collaboration Activity by Region
Only 51.8% of schools based in Northern America reported having either kind of formal policy in place to guide collaborations or international activities in general, making them less likely than any other region to have such policies. Northern America is also the only region in which a majority of respondent schools reported having no office, department, or staff position in place that oversees collaborations and/or international activities. By comparison, more than 90% of schools based in all other regions combined reported having such an administrative structure. More than 90% of schools based in all other regions combined reported having at least one of the two types of guiding policies in place.
Now, it's true that schools from Northern America make up 67.5% of all respondents to the survey, and so it may be that increased participation from other world regions on future iterations of the survey could bring greater equity to the results. Nevertheless, if having some form of guiding strategy is key to getting the most out of globalization efforts, it seems that many schools in Northern America have some catching up to do in order to be on par with the rest of the world.