Business Education in Canada: A Blueprint For Change
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The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 1 Sep 1996, p. 71-84
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Tapp, Lawrence, Speaker
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Text
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Speeches
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A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Ivey Alumni Association, Toronto Chapter.
Canadian universities and colleges thinking deeply about their future in a swiftly changing world. Some of the forces that are driving change among Canada's business schools, and the steps thought necessary by the speaker for us to turn out the next generation of business leaders. No safe haven in today's global economy. The obligation of business schools not only to respond to change or document it for academic posterity, but to lead it. Steps required to provide that leadership. Building a case for business education as a critical factor in our country's economic competitiveness. Words from U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan: "Abstract ideas and concepts are the dominant element in the creation of economic value … this conceptualisation of economic growth has led to a world in which human skills are becoming obsolescent at an unprecedented rate." Two immediate impacts of this fundamental shift: intellectual capital now the prized resource in our post-industrial economies; continuous learning is now an imperative for both the organisation and the individual. Business schools as the prime source of intellectual capital in our economy. Responding to business' need for continuous or "just-in-time" learning. Constant challenges to Canadian business and Canadian business education. Consequent changes from NAFTA. Seven steps we need to take, with a discussion of each: Export intellectual capital; Become self-reliant; Focus on teamwork and integrative skills; Focus on niche areas of strength; Bring the school to the student; Focus on key trends and issues; Avoid-flavour-of-the-month. Some concluding words. The nature of universities today. The demand for higher education. The role of the university and its relation to society undergoing radical change; how this is doubly so for business schools. The opportunity in the fact that intellectual capital is now a strategic resource. Some critical advantages of our Canadian roots. Critical growth areas. A vision that involves a willingness to learn as much as teach. Expectations of business schools.
Date of Original
1 Sep 1996
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English
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Fairmont Royal York Hotel

100 Front Street West, Floor H

Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3

Full Text
Lawrence Tapp, Dean, Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario
BUSINESS EDUCATION IN CANADA: A BLUEPRINT FOR CHANGE
Chairman: Julie Hannaford, President, The Empire Club of Canada

Head Table Guests

Douglas Todgham, Vice-President, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Third Vice-President, The Empire Club of Canada; Colley Clarke, Vice-President, Finance, Administration and Human Resources, CANCOM and President, Ivey Alumni Association Toronto Club; Robert D. Brown, Past Chairman, Price Waterhouse; The Rev. Canon Harold Roberts, Rector, St. Timothy's Church, Agincourt, Honorary Chaplain and a Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; Ronald Charles, Partner, The Caldwell Partners Amrop International and Chair of the Board, Ivey Alumni Association--Toronto Club; Robert A. Ferchat, Chairman and CEO BCE Mobile Communications Inc.; Richard M. Ivey, President, The Richard Ivey Foundation; Shelagh Donovan, Partner, Ernst & Young and a Director, Ivey Alumni Association--Toronto Club; David Elliott, Managing Director, Mergers and Acquisitions, Midland Walwyn; Harry Seymour, President and CEO, Pathfinder Learning Systems Corporation and a Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; Peter Godsoe, Chairman and CEO, The Bank of Nova Scotia and Chancellor, University of Western Ontario; and David Weiner,

Partner, National Public Relations Limited and Vice-President, Programming, Ivey Alumni Association--Toronto Club.

Introduction by Julie Hannaford

The Empire Club is North America's only speaking club of record.

I have the pleasure of beginning this introduction by welcoming not only the members and directors of The Empire Club of Canada who are here with us today for this meeting, but also the directors and members of the Alumni Association of the Richard Ivey School of Business, for whom I believe, this is the launch of the fall season of meetings. I am sure that many of you who are alumni are also members of The Empire Club of Canada. If you are not, I am also sure that you will be in the future.

For any graduate school, and indeed for any educational institution, secondary, post-secondary, or post-graduate, its alumni organisation has assumed a critical status. Whereas before, the alumni organisation of an educational institution, often served primarily as a repository for mailing addresses for school colleagues, now, and increasingly, the alumni of our educational institutions are regarded as both the base and the touchstone for the success of our schools today. Why? Because the graduates of any school, and in particular, any professional school, are not just the best yardstick of the school's success, but they are the key resource in making that school a better place, as well as in maintaining the success.

By "resource," I mean not only a financial resource. Rather, it is the alumni who are often able to provide the best insight and creativity needed to evaluate, remedy, and change the institution from which they have graduated.

But the dedication of any group of alumni to provide that input, and to support the institution from which they graduated, depends entirely upon the quality of teaching and dedication to the consumers of the process, before they become alumni.

It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to say that our guest today, the Dean of the Richard Ivey School of Business, has inherited a formidable, and formidably loyal alumni and alumni organisation.

Both the Richard Ivey School of Business, and you, Dean Tapp are blessed with an interested and committed alumni, clearly because of the history of what your school has delivered in the past. Such a blessing, is in some ways also a burden. It is a burden in the sense that a school with a strong, committed, and dedicated alumni must continue to keep on doing not only that which generated the alumni, but also to do what it has done better. For business schools today the prospect of "doing the right thing" is a complicated challenge.

Business schools today confront challenges in addressing how we manage and create industry and commerce in a setting where national borders are becoming increasingly an historical curiosity, and natural resources are associated more with intellectual development and less with mechanical production.

That our guest today is equal to the challenges is unquestioned. I can make that statement because of the impressive background our guest brings to his position.

From 1985 to 1992, he was CEO of the Lawson Mardon Group, one of the world's premier packaging organisations with major operations in Europe and North America. During his tenure at Lawson Mardon, he became recognised in industry as a leader skilled at initiating change, improving performance and restructuring. During his tenure, he initiated an in-company MBA programme taught by leading business school faculty, in which more than 200 managers participated.

Mr. Tapp has also been heavily involved with both McMaster University and the University of Toronto. He has been on the Board of Governors at McMaster since 1987, and served on its Executive Committee and as Chairman of the Advancement Committee, responsible for fundraising and alumni relations. At the University of Toronto's Faculty of Management, Mr. Tapp was Chairman of the Dean's Advisory Council and Executive-in-Residence since 1992. He taught Strategic Management in U of T's MBA and EMBA programmes, chaired four committees, and was involved with their successful fundraising efforts for a new management building.

Distinguished guests, members of The Empire Club of Canada, and the Alumni Association of the Richard Ivey School of Business, please join me in welcoming our guest, the Dean of the Richard Ivey School of Business, Mr. Larry Tapp.

Lawrence Tapp

Before we get down to business I wanted to note quickly the new beginnings we are celebrating today. This is the first combined event hosted by The Empire Club and the Ivey Alumni Association--Toronto Chapter, and I hope it will be followed by many more. It is also the beginning of a new academic year, a time when universities and colleges across Canada are thinking deeply about their future in a swiftly changing world.

And, of course, it is the first year in which my own school takes on a new identity. Building on a proud 75year history of educating Canada's business leaders, Western Business School is now the Richard Ivey School of Business. I am honoured to have Richard Ivey here with us today. He and his family have been actively involved with the school for half a century. Their recent naming gift has helped launch us towards our goal of entering the top tier of international business schools.

Today I want to talk to you about some of the forces that are driving change among Canada's business schools, and the steps I think are necessary for us to turn out the next generation of business leaders.

Those of you who already run businesses will find this familiar territory. You already know that in today's global economy, there is no safe haven--no ivory tower. You either move forward or fall back. The same holds true for business schools.

In fact, we have an additional obligation. Business schools must not only respond to change or document it for academic posterity, we need to lead it. If we don't, we will grow increasingly irrelevant to our students and to their employers. Leadership is at a premium today. If we can't deliver it, our customers will quickly go elsewhere.

Before I tell you what steps are required for us to provide that leadership, let me build a case for business education as a critical factor in our country's economic competitiveness.

U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan said recently that in today's industrial economies, "Abstract ideas and concepts are the dominant element in the creation of economic value." He went on to say that this "conceptualisation of economic growth" has led to a world in which human skills are becoming obsolescent at an unprecedented rate.

There are two immediate impacts of this fundamental shift. The first is that intellectual capital is now the prized resource in our post-industrial economies. The second is that continuous learning is now an imperative for both the organisation and the individual. Business schools are--and must continue to be--the prime source of intellectual capital in our economy. But we must also respond to business' need for continuous or "just-in-time" learning to respond to the pace of change in their environment. And we have to deliver it in the optimal location for the student and the company. If we don't, we will soon be out of business. Companies will find what they need elsewhere--through in-house programmes or through strategic alliances with non-university educators.

Canadian business--and Canadian business education--are no longer cozy environments. Our centres of excellence and competitive advantages are constantly being challenged. NAFTA alone has dramatically changed the supply and demand equation for business education. We are now competing against the likes of Harvard, Stanford and INSEAD. We need to work harder than ever to attract and keep the best talent in terms of both faculty and students.

In short, to grow our intellectual capital and to ensure its steady flow to the business community, we can no longer afford to remain aloof from the economic and business environment. We must be at the leading edge of change if we are to prepare others to manage change.

I don't want to give the impression that our schools have failed to meet their obligations in the past. Far from it. Working with limited and now diminishing resources, we have established a tradition of excellence of which we can be proud. But now it is time to change so that that tradition can continue. Here are seven steps we need to take.

Export intellectual capital

First, we need to create and export intellectual capital. Let me explain by using trade as an analogy.

Canada's strength as a trading nation is our ability to source raw material, whether domestic or imported, and transform it into value-added products for domestic or international consumption.

In fields such as telecommunications, transportation and natural resources, Canadian firms export not only goods but also know-how. Our manufacturers are increasingly driven to seek global product mandates in order to survive and prosper. In the same vein, our business schools must develop their own equivalent of global product mandates. We must be able to attract the best intellectual resources on a global basis and transform them into ideas--or intellectual capital--that can be sold anywhere in the world.

We should stop worrying about the "brain drain" and focus on making our business schools more attractive to foreign students. Canada must become a preferred destination for students seeking an international business education. To do that, we need to become second-to-none in developing the expertise to manage in a global environment, whether the business is a local shop or a multinational corporation.

My own school has about one in five students from abroad or from first-generation Canadian families. I'd like to see us having an international student body that is 50 per cent or even higher.

Ivey Business School is already renowned for its focus on applied management skills. But that isn't good enough anymore. We have now set our sights on being one of the top schools in the area of global management skills. And to do that, we know that we'll have to play in the big leagues--where the motto is, "Play to win or stay at home."

Become self-reliant

This brings me to step two. If Canada's business schools are going to be net exporters of intellectual capital, we

need more financial capital. Our current level of funding is simply not up to the task.

To do so, we need to become more self-reliant and more self-funded through innovative partnerships with businesses and with other universities through higher tuition fees and through innovative new teaching programmes.

First and most obvious, provincial governments have neither the means nor the appetite to increase our funding at this time. I would be the first to agree with them. It is unfair to ask Canadian taxpayers to heavily subsidise professional schools, given the high salaries most graduates will earn and given that many will pursue business opportunities outside Canada. Second, governments have never been able to afford the kind of subsidy that is needed to make our schools top-tier, which is precisely why we have been slipping behind our international competitors for several years. Professors at Ivey Business School earn on average 40 per cent of what their colleagues would earn at top-tier U.S. schools. It is a tribute to our school that they remain deeply committed to it but this gap is clearly unsustainable.

Over-reliance on government funding has sapped our energy and initiative. That's the bad news. The good news is that greater reliance on other sources--tuition, alumni and corporate support and new revenue centres--will foster competitive excellence by encouraging direct investment in intellectual capital. This will ultimately raise educational quality across the board. Removing tuition caps is a key step in this direction and should be implemented as soon as possible to allow us to compete more effectively with the best international schools.

The drive towards self-sufficiency will have a number of impacts on the "market" for business education in Canada--some positive and some negative:

• It will accelerate the "shake-out" that is already underway. Schools that service too few students at too high a cost, and that don't have the critical resources to grow, will be merged or closed.

• Some schools will chase dollars, especially student dollars, by offering popular and trendy programmes or by lowering their entrance requirements. These schools will inevitably be recognised for what they are--degree mills.

• Other schools will decide to be only "retailers" or "recyclers" of intellectual capital, never "manufacturers" of it. Their students will be that much farther removed from the realities of the business world.

• And, of course, some schools will emerge as clear winners, attracting the brightest and the best faculty and students here and abroad, and leveraging their strengths to become stronger still.

In short, students, recruiters and funders will have to "kick the tires" of a prospective school very carefully. Caveat Emptor--let the buyer beware.

As someone who has spent much more of his life in the business world than the academic one, I'm not worried by this new market reality. It will feel just like coming home.

Focus on teamwork and integrative skills

The third step towards change is a new focus on teamwork and integrative skills.

Since teamwork is quickly replacing hierarchy in the modern corporation, business schools must place far greater emphasis on developing team building, team leadership and cross-functional strategic thinking. In practice, this means greater emphasis on communications and interpersonal skills, flexible and transferable problem-solving skills and the ability to integrate information across several functional areas.

It also means that teamwork has to be practised in business schools, not merely taught. The days of the self-absorbed, self-centred, solitary academic are over. I'm proud to say the Ivey Business School has practised teamwork and an integrated approach to the disciplines of management long before they were fashionable--in fact from its beginnings. But don't take my word for it. Ask any student on campus, any alumnus, or any faculty member. They will all tell you the same thing.

While fiercely competitive towards the outside world, Ivey Business School has always been a place where students and teaching excellence come first, where faculty care more about the school than their careers, and where an integrated approach to learning infuses every moment of every day. We don't just teach accounting, finance or organisational behaviour. We teach management. Next to the business leaders whom we turn out, our approach to learning is our most valuable asset.

Focus on niche areas of strength

The fourth step is to focus on niche areas of strength.

The days when a company could be all things to all people are numbered. Global competition and consumer choice compel companies to focus on core strengths. The same holds true for business schools. Not every school in Canada can afford to be the best in every area of knowledge. This simply costs too much and doesn't make sense in a country of our size.

There is room for collaborative efforts--among Canadian schools and with schools abroad--to allow students to tap into the richest veins of knowledge, wherever they happen to be. Ivey Business School, for example, has developed a three-way joint venture programme called "Competing in the Americas" with the Darden School in Virginia and IPADE, one of Mexico's pre-eminent business schools. Alone, each school would have been hard-pressed to attract the faculty and students needed to establish a Pan-American teaching capability. Together, we have created a programme that is unique and truly world-class.

When it comes to knowledge, of course, the normal rules of competition don't apply. The more you share, the more you gain.

Bring the school to the student

Fifth, business schools today must increasingly bring the school to the student.

For today's manager, the most precious commodity is time, and the most difficult challenge is to balance the roles of executive, entrepreneur, student, parent, and provider. We need to come up with programme delivery methods that help them meet that challenge--or again, others will step into the breach. Further, the pressures and conflicting responsibilities managers face today must provide the intellectual framework for our course content.

Ivey's Video Executive MBA Programme is addressing that need, with state-of-the-art video-conference classrooms in London, Mississauga, Markham, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Montreal. We have also partnered with CP Rail in Montreal and Calgary with respect to video conferencing, ushering in a new era of accessibility and value-added for corporate executive education customers.

Focus on key trends and issues.

The poet Horace said: "Seek for truth in the groves of academe." The challenge facing business schools is to make sure that this dictum is as applicable today as in his time.

Industrialised nations are facing a slate of issues that will challenge their business communities and place a premium on managerial excellence. Globalisation, deregulation, privatisation, an aging population, the so-called "jobless recovery," the environment and work-related stress are issues high on management's agenda. And so must they be on ours. Business schools should be the central forum for their exploration and for the breakthrough thinking needed to tackle them.

A narrow focus on technical skills is a disservice to students who will face such issues upon graduation, and to the business community who will go elsewhere to develop strategic responses. Providing a forum for these issues will also help dispel the notion, perhaps left over from the 1980s, that business schools and their graduates put profit over principle--that the sole measure of success is "doing the deal." Having been a deal-maker myself a little more than 18 months ago, I have always felt strongly that the deal is important but that how you arrive at it and who benefits from it is equally important.

Avoid-flavour of-the-month.

Finally, business schools have to protect the standard of education they deliver, no matter what pressure they come under. Earlier I mentioned how declining revenues might cause some schools to respond in ways that are short-sighted and ultimately harmful. But the heat isn't only financial.

Uncertainty in the business environment has prompted a frantic search for solutions--on campus and off. It has created a supercharged but superficial learning atmosphere in which we thirst for information on everything and anything new about business. It has spawned a multi-million dollar "pop biz" industry and a gaggle of gurus touting two-cent solutions with evangelical zeal. They've given us the gospel of total quality, the search for excellence, and the paradigm shift.

Don't get me wrong. Each of these concepts has its own merits. Each can have a positive effect on a company if they are applied with integrity and with commitment. But they are no substitute for the conceptual, decision-making and implementation skills that constitute sound management practice.

Ivey Business School's focus-on-the-case method is an example of a core strength that is neither flavour-of-the-month nor easily replicated. And it is one we will build on internationally as we write new business cases for Asia and for the Americas.

I am also disturbed by the growing trend towards accrediting courses towards an MBA that are taught by non-university institutions. An MBA has to maintain its authenticity as a university programme in which students master the principles of business. If we allow so-called MBAs to be awarded by ABC Training Academy, or whatever, we debase the degree and everything it stands for.

Conclusion

It was once said of universities that they were safe havens--places for quiet, undisturbed, scholarly reflection. Not any more!

Even as the demand for higher education grows, the role of the university and its relation to society is undergoing radical change. This is doubly so for business schools. If Alan Greenspan is right about the "conceptualisation of economic growth"--and I certainly think he is--then we need to make sure our graduates not only have the knowledge and skills for immediate employment, but also that we have planted the seed of continuous learning in them.

The fact that intellectual capital is now a strategic resource is also our great opportunity, for we are its "primary producers." But, like any business, we need continuous investment in R and D if we are to fulfill our mandate of preparing the next generation of global managers.

While some might question whether we have the resources to do so, our Canadian roots give us some critical advantages:

• As a trading nation, we are attuned to global rhythms and to the need to adapt to global markets. We have no choice but to be endlessly inquisitive about the world around us and to seek to know it better.

• Our multicultural population and heritage makes us sensitive to foreign markets and cultures and makes us an attractive destination for both foreign investors and students.

• We have a permanent "Hertz vs. Avis" relationship with the U.S.--we always have to try harder! This forces Canadian businesses--and business schools--to turn liabilities like smaller size into assets. (It is a bit like tennis. By playing against more powerful opponents, you better your own game. Then, one day, you beat them.)

The imperatives of the global market are what led the Ivey Business School to change its name and to build a new vision for the future. At its core, we see global management skills, managing technology and entrepreneurship as our critical growth areas. We see the strengths that have made us renowned in the past--our focus on developing people and our emphasis on applied learning--as the foundation for a broader and more international scope. But most of all, our vision involves a willingness to learn as much as we teach. And we have a great deal to learn from business.

Most Canadian businesses don't have the luxury of being "armchair generals." They've had to fight hard to win the competitive advantages they enjoy. They have been buffeted by gale force winds--free trade, recession, globalisation, technological revolution--without the insulation of a huge domestic market. They have had to be global both operationally and intellectually in order to survive. They naturally expect their business schools to help them compete to win. They expect us to have the same fighting spirit as them and the same burning desire to be among the best.

We can do no less. Thank you.

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Business Education in Canada: A Blueprint For Change


A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Ivey Alumni Association, Toronto Chapter.
Canadian universities and colleges thinking deeply about their future in a swiftly changing world. Some of the forces that are driving change among Canada's business schools, and the steps thought necessary by the speaker for us to turn out the next generation of business leaders. No safe haven in today's global economy. The obligation of business schools not only to respond to change or document it for academic posterity, but to lead it. Steps required to provide that leadership. Building a case for business education as a critical factor in our country's economic competitiveness. Words from U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan: "Abstract ideas and concepts are the dominant element in the creation of economic value … this conceptualisation of economic growth has led to a world in which human skills are becoming obsolescent at an unprecedented rate." Two immediate impacts of this fundamental shift: intellectual capital now the prized resource in our post-industrial economies; continuous learning is now an imperative for both the organisation and the individual. Business schools as the prime source of intellectual capital in our economy. Responding to business' need for continuous or "just-in-time" learning. Constant challenges to Canadian business and Canadian business education. Consequent changes from NAFTA. Seven steps we need to take, with a discussion of each: Export intellectual capital; Become self-reliant; Focus on teamwork and integrative skills; Focus on niche areas of strength; Bring the school to the student; Focus on key trends and issues; Avoid-flavour-of-the-month. Some concluding words. The nature of universities today. The demand for higher education. The role of the university and its relation to society undergoing radical change; how this is doubly so for business schools. The opportunity in the fact that intellectual capital is now a strategic resource. Some critical advantages of our Canadian roots. Critical growth areas. A vision that involves a willingness to learn as much as teach. Expectations of business schools.