The Elephants and the Dragons: A Brave New World of MBA Education

By guest blogger, Dr. Anurag Mairal, the CEO of Gurome and Director, Global Exchange, Stanford Biodesign at Stanford University.

Let’s consider the numbers: Asia contributes to over 20% of World’s GDP, estimated at $63 trillion in real terms. China and India, two of the top 10 economies in the world, are growing at nearly 10% per year, while developed economies in the U.S. and Europe are experiencing anemic growth of 1-3% per year. Asia is home to over 60% of the world’s population. Most importantly, Asia will command over 50% in world’s GDP within next quarter century. These striking numbers highlight what is already obvious to most in the corporate world: Asia will be a dominant economic force in coming decades. A direct outcome of that growing economic might is the emergence of some high quality MBA programs in the region.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

In fact, a recent ranking by Financial Times (FT) puts 4 Asian programs in Top 20, including Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) at no. 6; Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) at no. 11; Indian School of Business (ISB) at no. 13; and China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) at no. 17. Two more programs make the top 50: National University of Singapore (NUS) at 23 and Nanyang, Singapore at 33. Whether you believe these rankings or have quibbles about precise rank (e.g., how is MIT Sloan ranked below HKUST?), the undeniable fact is that the Asian MBA programs have arrived. These new entrants – ISB, for instance, is only 10 years old; not even a teen – are already playing in the big league, competing with the top U.S. programs for high quality applicants from Asia. More significantly, these schools have ambitions that are as global as their rankings on FT suggest. ISB, for instance, has unleashed a series of marketing campaigns, including a webinar series this year that target Indian diaspora and even non-Indians with an interest in India. The increase in the number of international applicants to CEIBS and HKUST can be contrasted with as much as 10% decline in the applicant volume at some of the Top-10 MBA programs in the U.S. The action, as they say, is shifting eastward, gradually but surely.

The established top programs are taking note. Increasingly, likes of Stanford and Wharton are offering courses that focus on the emerging markets. The number of student teams visiting Asia during summer and the number of students seeking a semester abroad in Asia have visibly gone up. Harvard Business School’s Dean Nitin Nohria acknowledged the changing dynamic in his comments recently. He said, and I quote: “As late as 1988, when I joined, less than 5% of our case [studies] were outside of the United States. Last year more than a third of our cases were global.”

As the war for globally savvy talent hots up, and large corporations seek growth in emerging markets in Asia and elsewhere, the importance of Asian MBA programs will increase undoubtedly. MBA aspirants considering a global career would do well to consider these programs.

 

 

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