Exec Ed Boom in China?

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on June 13, 2008

Jordi Canals, the dean of IESE Business School, came by the BusinessWeek offices today and had some interesting things to say. On the subject of China, he said he expected to see more Western b-schools and Chinese universities rush to offer non-degree executive education programs in the next few years.

Some English-language MBA programs started by Western b-schools a few years back have run into problems recently—mainly poor demand and a lot of red tape. Canals said that the scarcity of Chinese who have both adequate English skills and a willingness to part with large sums of cash for a Western MBA is making it difficult for some to remain viable.

But executive education is another matter entirely, especially those taught in Mandarin or Cantonese, or that offer simultaneous translation. Two years ago, IESE launched an open enrollment executive education program (with Harvard Business School and CEIBS) designed to train Chinese CEOs. The three-week program, with classes in Boston, Barcelona, and Shanghai, started with 42 participants and now has 55, and demand is strong.

Unlike the full-time MBA programs, short non-degree exec ed programs are a natural in China, where a sizzling economy is giving a lot of companies global ambitions. Canals says: "Companies realize they have to change their management. They realize they need talent and they're willing to spend."

It will be interesting to see if Canals' prediction about a Chinese exec ed boom comes true.

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