[Campus Commentary]Business schools fall short of their missionCreativity and innovation are perhaps the most widely used words by today’s business school students in Korea. They signify what business schools are trying to teach their students. Emerging economies have become centers for massive outsourcing, which will only continue to expand. Certainly, we do not aspire to become cheap workers for the world. That is why we are focusing on creativity and innovation.
Amid rapid globalization, Korea’s education policy has been focused on what to teach. But over the decades, it has not yet provided an adequate answer to that question. Perhaps that’s because it’s been asking the wrong question.
In order to provide education that fosters creativity, how to teach must be examined as closely as what to teach. This applies to universities, too. Today’s business schools are intent on turning their students into creative and innovative global leaders. But just how many business school students believe their core competencies rest on creativity and innovation? Not many. It is clear that today’s business schools fail to provide curriculums that foster these values.
That is what Korean business school students feel about their education these days. From freshman to senior year, we have not learned to be creative or innovative. There is only a meager difference in the pedagogical approach between high school and university. We have been memorizing math equations and English words, and now we are memorizing theories and their implications. In the classroom, there are always too many students to foster discussion and too little room for imagination. Yet, almost every business school’s mission statement includes such vague expressions as fostering leaders who are “creative,” “innovative” and “global.” But we not only feel that we are not competent enough for the global market, but also that our undergraduate degree is not paying off.
Korean MBA programs kicked off last fall ― a sign that business schools in Korea are ready to compete with foreign MBA programs. Sure, Korean MBA programs might provide a better opportunity for us in establishing social networks and in learning Korea’s unique market. The surging number of MBA programs, however, also indicates that our undergraduate education has reached its limits. We are compelled to seek more education than ever before.
According to Michael Porter, the father of business strategy, companies must choose between cost leadership and differentiation to lead a market. Applying this principle to each individual, we no longer have cost leadership in the global market. Differentiation is crucial for tomorrow’s success, but the way to differentiation is thick with competition. Radical innovation is fundamental in attaining global leadership. Today’s business school students aspire for just that, but we feel left out. We are not confident that we can learn to be creative and innovative during our school years.
Why do we feel so? It’s not necessarily the Korean MBA programs or flashy mission statements that we want to see, but innovation itself taking place. And business schools are the ones that need it most.
*The writer was editor-in-chief of The Yonsei Annals and the president of the Marketing Leaders Club at Yonsei University.
by Yoo Sung-jee