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Home > Special Topics > Activity Report Last Updated: 15:10 03/09/2007
Activity Report #75: June 12, 2006

IAP2M Seminar Report: Professor Kobayashi on Challenges for Business School Programs

Takahiro MIYAO (Professor, Head, Japanese Institute of Global Communications, International University of Japan)

This English report is based on a more detailed report in Japanese, prepared by Mikihiro Maeda, research associate at the Japanese Institute of Global Communications, and also comments and suggestions by Professors Noritake Kobayashi and Toshihiko Kinoshita on an earlier version of this report.



Seminar Summary
[International Assciation of Project and Program Management] Special Seminar:June Meeting
Date/Time:June 3 (Sat) 10:00 - 12:30
Place:P2M Room, R&D Center, Waseda University
Program: 10:00 11:00
Speaker: Noritake Kobayashi (Emeritus Professor, Keio University)
Topic: "Challenges for Business Schools in US and Europe"

11:15 12:30
Q&A and Free Discussion
Language: Japanese
Organizer: IAP2M (www.iap2m.jp), International Group

Noritake Kobayashi, Emeritus Professor, Keio UniversityThe June meeting of the special P2M seminar series was organized and moderated by Professor Toshihiko Kinoshita at Waseda University on June 3, 2006. The speaker was Keio University Emeritus Professor Noritake Kobayashi, who talked about challenges for business schools and Japanese management studies in the US and Europe. The following is a summary of Prof. Kobayashi's presentation.

First of all, I wish to point out the recent decline in popularity of US business schools, which are no longer regarded as the only major source of executive candidate supply. Actually, these days there are fewer applicants to MBA programs and it becomes easier to be admitted to those schools than before. There are a number of reasons for this new development.

The first reason is that today's business school tuition fees are about 68,000 US dollars for two years, not including room and board costs. This is just too expensive, compared with the average earnings of MBA graduates. Second, MBA graduates no longer seem to have a definite advantage over four-year college graduates in the job market, as they used to have. This is because today's business requires not just management techniques but broader scientific and technological knowledge with creative ideas. Third, there used to be real business executives on the faculty, who could teach students their "wisdom," which means the insight and knowhow that they acquired by utilizing knowledge and techniques in the real world possibly along the line of our P2M approach. Nowadays, there are more purely academic professors with Ph.D. on the faculty than before, and they often lack real business experiences. In terms of money, some of the business schools find it difficult to maintain their operating budget, due to cuts in government support. While there are some successful cases of venture businesses fostered by business schools for fund raising purposes, those professors involved in such businesses tend to be too busy to teach students, facing the difficulty in reconciling business with education.

Regarding Japan management studies in the US, it is no longer a major subject matter at US schools, where main interests have shifted to China, India, Vietnam, etc. In fact, Japan itself is now regarded as one of the peripheral, however important, countries surrounding China. Although there are still a number of researchers on Japanese management, their objectives are not to study Japan itself, but to explore newer subjects such as entrepreneurship and venture projects, or more specialized fields such as the Toyota management system, because Japan studies per se might well be considered of minor importance for research as well as career purposes.

In order to reverse this trend, a couple of years ago I prepared a more relevant course outline entitled "Globalization Strategies of Japanese Multinational Corporations," where case studies would be taken up of Matsushita on basic business planning, Komatsu on restructuring and globalization, Honda on entry into the US market and development of local production, Kao and P&G Japan on marketing, Sanyo and Mabuchi Motors on management style and localization, NEC and Hewlett-Packard Singapore on overseas R&D activities, Koito on M&A and corporate governance, Honda Rover and Fuji Xerox on strategic alliance, GE on regional market penetration, Henkel Asia Pacific on regional headquarters development, etc. Unfortunately, I could not offer this course due to my illness, but something like this is needed to elevate the status of Japanese management studies so that more researchers and students might become interested in this field.

Finally, there is much room for improvement in international management education in the US, Europe and Asia including Japan. At the Stockholm Conference of the Academy of International Business which was held in 2004, the historical development of international management education, as well as its future prospects, was extensively discussed, where "main international business protagonists," including myself, agreed that international management courses should be incorporated into core curricula at business schools, and criticized the so-called "functional approach" for its numerous shortcomings. What is really needed now, in my opinion, is to make international management courses independent of functional area courses and to take a "holistic and integrated approach" for research and teaching, basically similar to our P2M approach. For example, a better and more workable relationship between government and business should be explored for more effective international management education in the current and future environment for global business.

After Prof. Kobayashi's presentation, various comments and opinions were expressed by participants. Everyone seemed to have a say on this controversial and challenging subject, and free discussions lasted for more than an hour well beyond the scheduled time.

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