Graduation Business Education in China

A recent article in The Economist (“Teaching case studies in China”, January 22, 2011, p 78) highlighted several interesting trends in the rapidly expanding market for business education in China where there are reported to be more than 30,000 students enrolled in 184 “approved” MBA programs.  First of all, in spite of the large number of programs the quality of the offerings is debatable and The Economist noted that “fewer than half a dozen programmes are up to international standards” and that many Chinese students still prefer to go overseas to study due, in part, to the perception that degrees from the US, Hong Kong or Singapore carry more reputational value.  Second, most Chinese programs still focus on preparing students for careers in state-owned enterprises; however, the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, often introduced as the best program in the country, has brought in foreign faculty members and has clearly decided to offer its students the coursework necessary for them to compete for jobs and career with multinational firms.  Third, finance and economics remain the most common major Chinese business students; however, the better programs have been expanding their offerings in “soft subjects” popular in the West such as human resources, marketing and leadership and foreign faculty members have been recruited to teach these subjects using Western innovations such as the “case study”.  It is anticipated that Chinese managers will appreciate the need to improve in these areas as their scope of responsibilities expand to include operations in foreign countries and oversight of local employees in those countries.  Finally, while the influences of the West are slowly but surely trickling into Chinese business education activities will remain tightly regulated and new business schools sponsored by universities in the West can expect to have to partner with a Chinese institution and accept a Chinese co-dean who reports to the government.

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