Business Innovation

MBA programs need to keep up with business innovation, employers say

Innovation, strategic planning and digital transformation top the list of what employers are looking for in MBA program graduates. Yet, many graduate business programs are still teaching more generic or broad courses, according to an Aug. 23 Bloomberg report. 

CarringtonCrisp, an education marketing firm, surveyed 508 employers from 22 countries in 2021 and found that 77 percent of employers believe MBAs need some form of a makeover.

Rapid innovation brought on by the pandemic has exacerbated the shift between what employers are looking for and what MBA programs are teaching.

MBA programs usually put a heavy focus on corporate finance, but employers want employees to be able to handle strategic projects, such as digital transformation.

To keep up with evolving business needs, many respondents said they were interested in MBA programs changing the delivery of education. Part-time, shorter-term programs paired with co-creating content with business schools could offer the flexibility to deliver appropriate skills for employees.

Part of the problem with business schools is that they teach broad courses, Cary Cooper, PhD, professor of organizational psychology at Alliance Manchester Business School in the U.K.

“It covers everything you need to know but doesn’t specialize you into anything,” Dr. Cooper said.

Some businesses have designed courses that focus on business ethics, such as sustainability and diversity. However, most of these courses are tacked on instead of being embedded into the core of their programs, said Mary Francia, partner CEO and board at recruitment firm Odgers Berndtson. 

Ms. Francia said many graduates have mastered core competencies but lack skills in emotional intelligence that are needed to engage employees.