What is the Gap Between Students' needs and Faculties' teaching in by guym13


									  What is the Gap Between Students' Needs and Faculties' Teaching in
                     MBA Education in China?
                                               ZHAO Fan
      School of Management, China University of Mining and Technology, Jiangsu, Xuzhou, 221008


Education situation in China. Although MBA education did not originate in China, it has grown rapidly in
20 years. Is it a good sign? From what the MBA students need and what the faculties teach, we may draw
the conclusion that there is a gap. In order to make up the gap and catch up with the prestigious business
schools in the world, partnership sharing is a good way and a forward way.

KEY WORDS: MBA Education in China;              Need;      Partnership


MBA Education originated in the USA. In 1881 Wharton Business School was set up as the first
worldwide business school at the University of Pennsylvania, with the purpose of cultivating
superior administrators for government and enterprise. In 1900 the first academic business school
was founded in Dartmouth College. Not until 1908 were the two-year MBA Education courses
born in Harvard University, which now have 100 years history (Chen Xiaohong, 2002). MBA
Education grew up on the basis of both the development of theory of management science and the
impulse of the market as the economy prospered. Though the direction of MBA Education was
determined by the market demand of managers, the early MBA Education was confined to
academic research, because of the traditional idea that the purpose of higher education was to do
profound research but not to cultivate professionals, emphasizing academic education.

A meaningful reform of MBA Education started in 1959, at that time two reports of MBA
Education in the USA sponsored by Ford Foundation and Carnage Foundation declared that the
purpose of MBA Education was to cultivate entrepreneurs and professionals for what enterprises
needed, these MBA graduates could have the ability to analyze real problems of enterprises and
make decisions; and to some extent MBA Education was different from other higher education
(Chen Xiaohong, 2002). By reason of excellent performance of MBA graduates, MBA Education
was widely recognized. Gradually, the American Model that after several year-working
experiences graduates with different knowledge backgrounds applying for the MBA become the
mainstream of American management education. Since then the American Model of MBA
Education has flourished around the world.


After the Reform and Open policy, the Chinese government decided to change the planned
economy to market economy. At that time China was eager to know the world and to learn
modern ideas and technology from the developed countries. After the USA President Nixon’s
visit to China, in 1984 the Chinese first MBA program was set up in Dalian in the North East of
China, which was the rudiments of Chinese MBA education (Keith Goodall, M. Warner, V. Lang,
2004). The USA government helped China to train superior administrators for the sake of

economy and trade between China and the USA. Only 40 candidates among 728 examinees were
enrolled. Without any knowledge about MBA, those candidates had to have English and be
management trained. The program was run conjunctly by Dalian Institute of Science and
Technology and New York State University at Buffalo. After taking GMAT, 39 candidates got
the opportunity to go to the USA to learn business administration and in 1987, 38 participants
graduated. At that time the training fee cost half of the Chinese total fee for studying abroad,
among which the round-trip ticket cost more than 20,000 yuan, while everyone's salary was only
55 yuan per month.

Although the cost to the Chinese government was considerable, 2/3 of the graduates found that
their knowledge had nothing to do with their work when they came back to where they work
before. This was because most of them either worked in the workshop or did translating.
Meanwhile, those graduates could not have the freedom to leave or work in another company,
because the government paid their fees and without doubting they had to submit to the
government (that is the Chinese situation at that time). After the situation of wasteful human
resource was revealed to China Youth on Dec.2 1987, the situation started to change. Finally, 1/3
of the graduates went to the front line of reform in China, where is Shenzhen-the open door of
China (Zhao Fan, 2006).

In 1990, the Office of Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council of China authorized the
degree of MBA and MBA education officially. Following in 1991 the Ministry of Education in
China firstly authorized Peking University, Tsinghua University and seven other universities to
enroll MBA candidates. The number of the candidates was only about 86. After more than a
10-year development, till 2006, there were 96 universities, in 29 provinces, authorized to enroll
MBA candidates. The number of candidates added up to 39841in 2006(statistic from
http://education.163.com/06/0707/12/2LE9AJTI00291MM4.html). All the graduates who have
more than 3-5 years working experiences and some quality of management can apply for MBA in
China. By the way, in 1997 education for Executive Master of Business Administration was set
up for executive managers to study for MBA, which has great meaning in promoting the level of
management of state-owned enterprises in China (Zhao Fan, 2006).

What do students need?

To some extent, what the market needs is what the students need. The market demands
administrators with higher qualities: not only the basic working ability of planning, organizing,
commanding, communicating, controlling, deciding, innovating, competing, and cooperating, but
also the quest of professional ethics and entrepreneurial spirit. So that, ability, ethics and spirit is
what MBA students need and what they have to pay attention to during their study, which is the
basic purpose of MBA education and the reason for taking MBA education for most of the

However, every student has a different background, quality or character, so that each of them has
special needs, as follows:

    •   Higher Salary
    •   Higher Position
    •   Another Job
    •   Business Relationships
    •   More Knowledge and Skills
    •   A Master Degree

    •   Higher salary

        Does not only depend on the MBA graduates’ working ability, professional ethics or
        entrepreneural spirit as we discussed above, which are the salient points, but also relies
        on the situation of the economy after their graduation- during economy prosperity MBA
        graduates easily get higher salaries while during stagnancy they tend to get lower salaries.

    •   Higher position

        Also relies on the MBA graduates’ working ability, professional ethics and
        entrepreneural spirit as discussed above, and moreover, whether the MBA graduate is
        suitable for the higher position, and the relationship with his/her superiors (this point is
        very obvious in China).

    •   Another Job
        Some MBA graduates want to change to another job just for higher salary or higher
        position, while others want to get the job that they are really interested in. For the second
        purpose, MBA graduates need to learn special knowledge and skills which the new job
        requests. For example, an MBA graduate who wants to work as a stockbroker, he/she has
        INVESTMENT, SECURITIZATION etc, and in addition the skills of how to exchange

    •   Business relationships

        Can evolve from relationships of classmates even schoolmates, of which MBA graduates
        could take great advantage to do business. These are fortunate networks for those MBA
        graduates who have ambitions in business.

    •   More Knowledge & Skills

        As we all know, the background of MBA students is not limited. So that students without
        a knowledge background of economics or management need to get that knowledge and
        the skills of an economist, manager, accountant, or financer to solve real problems which
        enterprises encounter.

    •   A Master Degree

        Only a few MBA students just want to get a master degree and enjoy the studying and
        living time in college.

What is the quality of the faculty?

Internationally, the request for qualified MBA faculty is very rigorous: with attributes including
PhDs, research outcomes, and integrated practical abilities, which is to say MBA faculty
members are not only professors in the university but also experts or consultants of enterprises, or
those who take part in finance institutions or companies. Nearly 100% of the MBA faculties in
prestigious business schools in the world have PhDs.

By contrast with that in China there are relatively few faculty members with PhDs (only 32% in
top 54 schools, let alone the others) (Keith Goodall, M. Warner, V. Lang, 2004). What’s more,
MBA faculty in China pay much attention to theory and academic research, but the reality is that
they lack business experiences, relative to those with affluent business experiences abroad.

What do the faculty teach?

Since Chinese MBA faculty are good at theory and academic research, theories are taught more
than cases studied, which leads to another problem of limited proper Chinese cases. Case
teaching has a very important role in MBA education abroad. Take the Harvard Business School
for example. In 1924 case teaching first started in Harvard Business School. MBA students are
required to discuss and analyze 800-1000 cases, and that relates to 2-3 cases everyday (Su Lei &
Ma Yinjie, 2006). Harvard cases are detailed enough to bring students to the atmosphere of
reality, through discussing, communicating, questioning and commenting upon which the ability
to analyze and solve problems is trained, especially their judgment-forming and decision-making
of concrete business problems.

By contrast, in China most business schools also use Harvard cases without being localized, but
in this way it is of no use in helping MBA students to learn how to solve Chinese business
problems. Additionally, Chinese cases are very rare, because on one hand Chinese business is
limited in both number and quality, on the other hand with little business experiences or little
funds few faculties could or would do case exploiting.

How do the faculty teach?

Various teaching methods are used during MBA education, such as problem-based learning (Du
Weiyu, 2007), seminar, role-playing, field trips, interactive discussions, lectures, oral
presentations, and research projects. The variety of teaching methods not only enables students to
have strict and professionally relevant learning experiences but also allows teachers to use the
most suitable methods for the subject matter.

While in China teaching methods emphasize traditional theory teaching, however rare interaction
between students and teachers, and practice is almost neglected. So MBA students are passive
recipients rather than active participants.

                             THE WAY TO MAKE UP THE GAP

From what has been discussed above, we may easily find that in China there is a great gap
between what MBA students needs and what the faculty members teach, and in other words, what
the teachers offer could not meet what the students need. In order to make up the gap and catch
up with the prestigious business schools around the world, Chinese MBA education has to learn a
lot from them as soon as possible. Under this circumstance, MBA educational partnership sharing
is a good way, and partnership sharing is a way forward with benefits for not only Chinese MBA
education but also foreign MBA education.

When we go back to the history of Chinese MBA education, it is clear that the first Chinese MBA
education program was offered jointly by Dalian Institute of Science and Technology and New
York State University at Buffalo. And another early foreign MBA program- the China Europe
Management Institute (CEMI) in Beijing was set up in 1984,which was the product
of negotiations between the European Union and the Chinese government. The project
was managed by the European Foundation for Management Development (Keith Goodall, M.
Warner, V. Lang, 2004). Then in 1994, CEIBS moved from Beijing to Shanghai, Chinese

economy center. And till now, nearly 50 joint venture MBA programs have been set up in China.
A large number of foreign professors and employed faculty from foreign business schools bring
modern management and organizational principles, and their teaching methods which work best
in the courses to China, which makes up Chinese MBA education deficiency. Additionally,
English is those foreign teachers’ spoken language, MBA students would be good at
English-speaking when they graduate, and that is one of their advantages to work in joint-venture
or foreign companies competing with other job hunters.

On the other hand, in partnership with Chinese business schools, foreign business schools could
know China better, know more principles, mechanisms and operations about Chinese enterprises
and companies, based on which they can consult to their local companies that do business with
Chinese, and further more, know what Chinese students think, do, and need, in order to fulfill
their teaching experiences. Nowadays, as the intense competition of student resource all over the
world, the number of students apply for MBA rises rapidly year by year. As a great potential
market, China becomes the focus of the world’s attention, and many foreign business schools
want to exploit China market. Partnership sharing is an efficient and effective way for foreign
business schools to share the Chinese market, acquire Chinese students.

Last but not least, not only should foreign business schools come in, but also Chinese business
schools should go out, to spread Chinese traditional management thoughts, for instance
Confucianism, to introduce the Chinese successful enterprises, to let foreigners be well informed
about China.


MBA Education was not originated in China, but the reality is that MBA Education grows rapidly
in China. Is Chinese MBA Education as good as the initiator or others in the world nowadays?
When we go further to discuss what the MBA students need and what the faculties teach, we may
draw a conclusion that there is a gap between what the MBA students need and what the faculties
teach, that is the reason Chinese MBA Education is behind the famous business schools all
around the world. What can Chinese MBA Education do? Learn! In order to make up the gap and
catch up with the well-known foreign business schools, Chinese MBA Education has to learn
from them. Efficiently and effectively, partnership sharing is a good way for Chinese MBA
Education to make up the gap and a forward way to bring both Chinese MBA Education and
foreign MBA Education to the future.

Xiaohong. C, Research of MBA Education in the New Century. Modern College Education, Vol 3, 2002, pp
29-30, (NN)
Goodall. K, Warner. M, Lang. L, HRD in the People’s Republic: The MBA ‘with Chinese characteristics’?.
Journal of World Business, (NN), 2004, pp311–323, (NN)
Zhao. F, The Characteristics of MBA Education in China. Proceedings of The First International Forum of
Business Administration Education, Vol 1, 2006, (NN)
Su. L Yinjie. M, The Characteristic of Western MBA Education. Modern Enterprise Education, Vol 7, 2006,
pp65-66, (NN)
Weiyu. D, Problem- Based Learning: Try to Promote MBA Education Localization, Heilongjiang
Researches on Higher Education, Vol 2, 2007, pp170-172, (NN)
Statistic from http://education.163.com/06/0707/12/2LE9AJTI00291MM4.html


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