EFMD Annual Conference 2013: “Preparing Our Schools for Upcoming Challenges” by Soumitra Dutta

EFMD Annual Conference 2013: "Preparing Our Schools for Upcoming Challenges" by Soumitra DuttaIn a closing lecture at the EFMD entitled “Preparing Our Schools for Upcoming Challenges,” Soumitra Dutta, the Dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University spoke about the challenges facing business schools today at the EFMD Annual 2013 Conference.  Issues of relevance and adherence to stakeholder interests were looked at, in mapping out the future environment for management education.

EFMD Soumitra DuttaSoumitra Dutta began the lecture by building upon his experiences in India, INSEAD and Cornell University, all which has enforced Soumitra in how he views the challenges in business education and how to address them.

In a model called the ‘5 Rs,’ he outlined the five priorities for business schools to consider.  These are research, relevance, richness, reach, and resources.

EFMD Annual Conference 2013: Soumitra Dutta

The main question posed by Mr. Dutta was on how to balance impact with efficiency.

1. Research:  The main question posed by Mr. Dutta was on how to balance impact with efficiency.  Research is at the very core of a business school’s reputation and the heart of the structure’s economics.  There are two central issues in this domain: attracting and retaining the top researchers, and motivating faculty.  As Dean of Cornell, he mentioned his biggest challenge is attracting the top researchers, who are always the ones to be sought after by the same twenty schools.  Additionally, it is difficult to energize faculty, especially when as a general rule of thumb, they do not like being told what to do.  Ever-increasing tuition fees have been driven by research costs brought on by faculty, which is not very easy to monetize.  The only quantifiable way of measuring faculty research is through the classroom; yet, the top faculty typically aim to teach less and less in order to focus on their own research, a dilemma.  He then added:

“The model of research in universities is a sacred cow, but at some point we need to question this.  We need to make this discussion more open.”

2. Relevance: How can one balance academic rigor with relevance?  Having the right balance between education and business are important for our business schools; however, this is the biggest challenge and some business schools have begun to address this in different ways.  INSEAD, for example, has required its professors to conduct research and case studies in the classrooms.  At Duke, in contrast, ‘teaching’ and ‘research’ are very disconnected from each other.

EFMD Annual Conference 2013: Soumitra Dutta

Mr. Dutta brought up the linkage between a local and a global perspective.

3. Richness:  All management schools have local roots by definition, and should not hide the fact.  Yet, at the same time, there must be an effort made to disseminate knowledge throughout global campuses.  Mr. Dutta emphasized that “the fact of the matter is that most faculty are local in nature.”

“The pressure for faculty to have a global perspective is not that strong.  Teaching for one week per year in China does not do this.” One has to put in the effort and change approach towards teaching in a global context, as well as thrive from the local one.

4. Reach: How can you achieve both quality and scale? With the growth of massive open online courses (MOOCs), for instance, some universities have aimed to increase the scale in numbers, without necessarily achieving quality.  This is a definite issue for many universities.  Mr. Dutta highlighted the Cornell and Queens partnership, which is a project that is working to deliver MBAs in 27 cities.  This gives scale but also keeps a high level of quality at the same time.  This is only one model that was discussed; however, in both Asia and Africa, there is also a demand for a high quality product, but one that has an affordable price tag.

5. Resources: How is focus intertwined with engagement? For higher education institutions, this is essential for survival.  Soumitra Dutta noted that, as a Dean, although big-name institutions have a substantial stream of resources coming from alumni, it is a major challenge deciding on how to allocate your time.  Fundraising is done by the community, so universities have to emit a strong culture to strengthen links with the community.

EFMD Annual Conference 2013: Soumitra Dutta

Mr. Dutta provided several supporting examples to his thoughts on innovation.

Professor Dutta then highlighted some examples of innovation and how universities are beginning to incorporate this in their projects.  He pinpointed the evolution of the car industry, and how its most innovative period was in the first 20 years of the 20th century.  There were 75 car companies; however, after one design got adopted, then the industry consolidated into only a few companies.  This showed the notion that innovation may not die, but may not evoke big changes in the grand scheme of things.

EFMD Annual Conference 2013: Soumitra Dutta

Schools tend to be focused in the execution today rather than on the learning side.

Schools tend to be focused in the execution today rather than on the learning side.  This, Mr. Dutta asserted, is the fundamental constraint to real change and its implementation.  Experimentation is needed in schools.  Cornell’s project in New York is working at this; it now has half of Roosevelt Island to develop a campus, its new tech center.  It aims to develop deeper integration with engineering, business schools, and businesses.  At the same time, the faculty will not have offices, so they will be interacting constantly in an open environment.

Soumitra Dutta concluded with one final point: Business schools will not look the same in twenty years, and in order to remain relevant, they must innovate and think outside the box.

Soumitra Dutta on Innovation in Education


Soumitra DuttaSoumitra Dutta

Mr. Soumitra Dutta is the Roland Berger Chaired Professor of Business and Technology, and Dean of External Relations at INSEAD. He is the faculty director of elab@INSEAD, INSEAD’s initiative in building a center of excellence in teaching and research in the digital economy in collaboration with leading international organizations such as Morgan Stanley, SAP, Cisco and Intel. Prior to joining the faculty of INSEAD in 1989, he was employed with Schlumberger in Japan and General Electric in the USA. Professor Dutta obtained his Ph.D. in computer science and his M.Sc. in business administration from the University of California at Berkeley. He has been a visiting Professor at several international universities including the Haas School of Business (Berkeley) and the Solvay Business School (Brussels). His current research is on technology strategy and innovation at both corporate and national policy levels. His latest books are “Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom” (Wiley, 2008), “Innovating at the Top” (Palgrave, 2008) and “The Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008” (Palgrave 2008). He has authored ten other books including “The Bright Stuff” (Financial Times/Prentice Hall, 2002), “Embracing the Net” (Financial Times, 2001) and “Process Reengineering, Organizational Change and Performance Improvement” (Mc-Graw Hill, 1999). He has won several awards for research and pedagogy including awards for the European Case of the Year from the European Case Clearing House in 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2002. He is actively involved in policy development at national and European levels. He is currently a member of the Advisory Committee for ICT for the Government of Qatar and has advised other national governments on ICT policy issues. He is the Chairman of the European Commission’s Europe Innova panel on Innovation in the ICT sector and a member of the Steering Committee of eBSN, the European Commission’s eBusiness Network initiative for SMEs. His research has been showcased in the international media such as CNN, CNBC, BBC and international publications. He has taught in and consulted with international corporations across the world. He has directed top management programs for several companies and is a regular contributor to in-house management programs. He is a fellow of the World Economic Forum.


See also:

Soumitra Dutta, future Dean at Cornell Univeristy, gives keynote speach at Grenoble EM

Soumitra DuttaI am most grateful to Soumitra Dutta and Bill Stirling for having taken the time out last week to give excellent key note speeches at the 6th ICISTM Conference that was held at my school. The conference’s key theme was how the entrepreneurial use of technology can help us out of the current economic crisis.

EFMD Annual Conference 2013: “Executive Education & Corporate Universities” by Philip Healy & David Jestaz

photoCorporate universities are increasingly becoming an option for global companies to maintain and enhance the talent within their organizations to be leaders, as well as provide an incentive for their employees to acquire further skills and other advancement opportunities.  In this year’s annual EFMD conference, Philip Healy, Regional Director of the Centre for Creative Leadership (Belgium), and David Jestaz, the Director of EDF Group’s Corporate University, discussed the trend of the corporate university as a form of executive education.

EFMD Annual Conference 2013: “Reinventing Education” by Howard Lurie

photo(8)This year at the EFMD Annual Conference, the trend of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCS) were highlighted and built upon by Howard Lurie, the Vice President for External Affairs for edX, a Harvard and MIT online course initiative.  The traditional model for higher education is now changing to reflect the emergence of open source content and learning online.  The advantages and disadvantages of going online were discussed, how traditional university models could work with MOOCs to their benefit, and what the next steps forward are for edX amidst all this.

EFMD Annual Conference 2013: “Efficiency and Creativity: the Impact of Management Education upon Business and Economy in Asia” by Dong-Sung Cho

photo(8)Dong-Sung Cho, Professor of Strategy, International Business, Management Design, and Sustainability Management at Seoul National University, gave a lecture at the EFMD 2013 Conference titled “Efficiency and Creativity: the Impact of Management Education upon Business and Economy in Asia.” This lecture discussed themes of management education, particularly through creative channels, and their influence upon the economies in the Asian markets, especially South Korea and China.

EFMD Annual Conference 2013: “Fasten Your Seatbelts” by David A. Wilson

EFMD Annual Conference 2013David Wilson, President and Chief Executive Officer of GMAC, presented a lecture at the EFMD 2013 Annual Conference titled “Fasten Your Seatbelts.” Higher education is facing an uncertain environment with differing approaches in pedagogy and turbulent markets. Wilson discussed the state of higher education now versus what it was like five years ago, and he gave his vision for higher education in the future.

EFMD Annual Conference 2013: “Does Management Education Create Impact?” by Eric Cornuel

EFMD Annual Conference 2013At the opening address for the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) 2013 Annual Conference, Eric Cornuel, EFMD’s Director General and CEO, gave an inspiring introduction on the positive influence that management education has worldwide.


Filed under Business, Business Schools, E-learning, Higher Education, India, Leadership, Management, Research, Strategy

3 responses to “EFMD Annual Conference 2013: “Preparing Our Schools for Upcoming Challenges” by Soumitra Dutta

  1. Pingback: EFMD Annual Conference 2013: “Executive Education & Corporate Universities” by Philip Healy & David Jestaz | GlobalEd

  2. Pingback: EFMD Annual Conference 2013: Closing Remarks by the Chair, Philippe Haspeslagh, Dean of Vlerick Business School. | GlobalEd

  3. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: “The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World” by Ben Wildavsky (2010) | GlobalEd

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