FT : Bridging The “Business Academic” Supply Gap

Monday, May 5, 2008

…Concerned about the looming shortage of management professors at business schools in the US, the AACSB, the accreditation group, has developed an innovative programme that provides academics in various disciplines with the skills necessary to teach business education.  The “bridge programme”, to launch at five business school campuses in the coming months, is not as newfangled as it sounds, says Mr Fernandes.  “The programmes target professors who already have their PhDs in related social science fields,” he says.  “Remember: there was no business PhDs until the 1950s.  The business professors of old wandered in from other disciplines.”  The production of business PhDs has declined while enrolments in undergraduate and masters level business programmes have increased.  A recent survey by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, which runs the GMAT entry test for business school, found that PhD programmes were the only business administration programmes that did not report many applications from prospective students this year.  And business schools – like other institutions – will be hard-hit as the baby boomer generation retires.  The shortage presents a big problem for business schools, particularly those concerned about maintaining accreditation, says Mr Fernandes.  The AACSB requires member schools to have at least 50% of their classes taught by academically qualified faculty, with 40% allowed for “professionally qualified”, non-PhD teachers and 10% of faculty that may not qualify as either.  “The practitioners do a great job in the classroom, teaching and bringing real world experience to students,” he says.  “However, it’s the academic – the person whose life is management education – that develops curriculum changes and does the basic research that advances the discipline.”…..Within the next five years, the AACSB hopes to have 200 graduates from the bridge programme. “I believe this will be a long-term staple for producing PhDs,” says Mr Fernandes.  He says the key to the programme’s success is that it gives prospective students both intellectual and financial incentives.  The bridge programme enables students “to apply their base discipline”: “They can do the applied state rather than the theoretical state.”  Second, business school professors make a lot more money than faculty in other fields.  “A math professor makes $70,000 a year, while an accounting professor makes $115,000 and will make much more than that over the course of his lifetime.  There’s a big economic incentive.  Some liberal arts disciplines are way overproducing PhD candidates.  They can’t possibly be absorbed by academia,” he says.  “A business degree has a lot of portability.”

Looming threat of faculty shortage as PhD entrants fall : Business schools around the globe are facing a faculty shortage within the next decade, according to new statistics…..Meanwhile, schools expect 11.4% of their doctoral faculty to retire in the next five years, up from 10.8% in 2002-03.  “The shortages have been brewing for [several] years and it’s gotten very competitive,” says Judy Olian, dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management in the US, who has researched this area.  “We have a very large number of pending retirements of baby-boomer faculty members, exploding student enrolments, and a huge increase in the number of business schools around the world.”  There are other reasons for the worldwide shortage.  For one, budget cuts at research universities have had a negative impact on the size of doctoral business programmes.  “There are no traditional funding sources for management PhDs like there are in big science,” she says.  Second, business schools have not effectively marketed management PhDs as a credential that leads to a lucrative career.  “There is a terminal degree in business in the form of the MBA which doesn’t necessarily encourage students to go on and get their PhD,” she says.  “And there is a misconception that if you sign on for a business PhD you’ll be resigned to a life of poverty, when in fact it’s an attractive and viable profession.”  Professor Olian says the shortage is “a very significant issue”.  “I think we need to recognise [the value of investing in business doctoral programmes] in the same way we recognise the need to invest in science and technology as a matter of American competitiveness,” she says.  “It’s critical to invest . . I view it as a national priority.”

Reference : http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/46e6945e-1a3c-11dd-ba02-0000779fd2ac.html

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