Posted by: Alison Damast on May 5, 2010
Innovation seems to be the new buzz word on many business school campuses these days, with B-Schools opening up new design labs, including the word innovation in their mission statements and weaving it into their curriculums. But just how widespread is the push for innovation on B-School campuses? The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), one of the leading accreditation agencies, decided to tackle this question recently, releasing a report today called “Business Schools on an Innovation Mission.” The report was put together by the group’s new Task Force on Business Schools and Innovation, chaired by Robert Sullivan, the dean of University of California, San Diego’s Rady School of Management. Stuart Feldman, vice president of engineering at Google, Inc., sat on the task force, along with a number of leading B-School deans and professors. To read the executive summary of the report, click here:
One surprising finding is that innovation may not be quite as widespread as people think on B-School campuses. Among the task force’s discoveries is that only 25% of the AACSB’s 728 member schools include the words “innovate,” “innovation,” or “innovative” in their mission statement. Meanwhile, just 14% use the words to describe their own program, while only 10% do so to describe the outcomes they are trying to achieve.
“The role of business schools in supporting innovation remains underdeveloped, undervalued and too-often unnoticed,” says Andrew Policano, the chair of the AACSB’s Board of Directors, in the report’s foreword.
The report goes on to describe the efforts that B-schools are making in this field and also offers up a list of five recommendations on what schools can foster innovation. Here's the list:
1) "Using our conceptual framework as a guide, individual business schools should develop and regularly evaluate their contributions to innovation in society."
2) "Individual business schools should develop an approach for creating value at the intersection of different perspectives."
3) "Individual business schools should advocate for their role in innovation."
4) "AACSB should determine the appropriate balance of collective pressure and support to provide for business schools to advance innovation in society."
5) "Determine the nature and extent of AACSB's advocacy role, especially as it relates to business schools' support for innovation in society."
Of all of these recommendations, I'm most interested in the last recommendation, which pushes for AACSB to play a larger advocacy role in promoting innovation on B-School campuses. It will be interesting to follow the work of this task force in the next year or two and see if they come to any more definitive conclusions for business schools. I'll also be curious to see how business schools respond to the initial findings of this report and if it spurs them to make any changes. Perhaps in a few years, all B-Schools will be required by AACSB to follow certain guidelines and mandates regarding innovation.
Readers, do you think that B-Schools should be required by accreditation agencies to include some aspect of innovation in their curriculum and mission statements? Would you like to see business schools doing more in this area than they are now?