India Well Positioned To Excel In Digitized Global Economy

Prof. Eric Cornuel, President - EFMD Global

An entrepreneur since his school days, Prof. Eric Cornuel, President of European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD Global), tells Education Post’s Tanay Kumar that management education must also teach students about world peace, diversity, social responsibility, and environmental protection.

You started your career as setting up a hydroelectric power plant in France when you were just a student. Please take us through your thoughts at that time.

From a young age, I have believed in the transformative power of education and research, propelling the advancement and progress of our societies and cultures.

The academic environment not only imparts a comprehensive knowledge framework and essential skills for entrepreneurial pursuits but, more importantly, cultivates a sense of curiosity and a quest for knowledge. This, in turn, enables individuals to think critically and creatively when faced with the pressing challenges of our times.

As a student, my own journey involved envisioning a hydroelectric power plant during a period when discussions about alternative and green energy sources were still in their infancy. I have always been drawn to looking beyond the present and exploring what lies ahead.

To me, entrepreneurship serves as a return to the core of our humanity – our innate ability to conceive ideas.

Last year, you authored the book, Business School Leadership and Crisis Exit Planning. What are the key aspects that this book highlights?

I am delighted that as part of EFMD’s 50th anniversary celebration, our book has been published by Cambridge University Press. This compilation features contributions from esteemed leaders in management education worldwide, offering diverse perspectives and addressing the complex challenges and dilemmas confronting business schools today.

Rooted in the collective reflection spurred by the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, the book presents a comprehensive analysis of management education trends, focusing on four pivotal themes: the higher purpose of business schools, their social impact, innovative approaches to internationalisation, and crisis management within these institutions.

Driven by a commitment to assess the lessons learnt from the pandemic, the book delves into how this global crisis has propelled or initiated substantial changes. It specifically examines how business schools, through resilience, recovery, adaptation, and innovation, can play a crucial role in steering countries and global businesses out of the crisis.

During your honorary doctoral ceremony at Kozminski University, Prof. Wojciech Czakon said that you contribution to management research is commendable, especially in the Journal of Management Development. Pursuing research in the management stream is less attractive as compared to research in commerce/finance, or business streams. How do you see this situation?

The pursuit of research in management merits recognition at least on par with other scientific disciplines, and I trust this acknowledgement resonates with the academic milieu. Management stands out as one of the most interdisciplinary fields, residing at the crossroads of humanities, science, business, and technology. It plays a pivotal role in shaping the organizational fabric of our societies, delving into the practical implementation of policies and projects. What adds to its allure is the profound exploration of human nature and social structures through the lenses of governance and leadership, making it indispensable for development and progress.

Allow me to use this opportunity to draw attention to the pressing issue of the relevance of research, particularly poignant in the realm of management studies. It is imperative that research remains intricately woven into societal needs.

A few years ago, Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich from the Wharton School estimated the cost of producing an A-Journal article to be around $400,000. Despite this substantial investment, there exists a noticeable disjunction between research and business practice. There seems to be an inclination towards quantity over quality and novelty over replicability. While we uphold a scientific mission, we equally bear a societal responsibility. Balancing academic impact and rigorous research is crucial, aligning with our vital role in addressing societal needs.

Among the EFMD members, along with management schools, are some associations/ organizations that have been working in the management area. So, why did EFMD think of their inclusion?

The response to the legitimacy and relevance concerns, as previously highlighted in the context of research, underscores why international collaboration is not only crucial but increasingly prevalent within the business education community.

Core principles such as world peace, diversity, social responsibility, and environmental protection are no longer confined to discussions within elite intellectual circles. As society evolves, so does business education, necessitating deeper collaboration among diverse entities in the management education landscape.

Amid this transformative shift, business schools, corporate learning organisations, and associations are designing collaborative strategies, recognising the significance of amplifying their collective impact and building trust in educational systems.

We consider ourselves fortunate to engage in close collaboration with other associations and management organisations, guided by principles of trust and mutual learning. Each brings a unique perspective, and our joint efforts span various projects, contributing to the collective advancement of management education.

EFMD’s website claims that its EOCCS (Online Course Certification System) provides business schools a quality benchmark in the diverse educational landscape of online courses. Please share some achievements of this system.

Even prior to the onset of the pandemic, the landscape of online education boasted a myriad of offerings. However, we identified a significant gap in the absence of a quality assurance framework for evaluating online education in the fields of business and management. Leveraging our extensive experience in accrediting business education, the logical progression was to develop a certification process for online learning. In 2016, with invaluable feedback from leading business schools and corporate universities—pioneers in obtaining online course certification – we inaugurated EOCCS. Esteemed institutions such as HEC Paris, Open University, BI Norway, Grenoble EM, IE Business School, and Sberbank Corporate University were among the trailblazers in this endeavour.

With the increasing prominence of simulations, microlearning, and peer-to-peer learning, EOCCS champions the evolution of higher education and its instructional methods.

The success of EOCCS lies in establishing a support platform for the online education movement. Beyond being a mere stamp of approval, it has nurtured an entire community around online education, fostering collaboration through the EOCCS Symposium, Online Teaching Academy, and a plethora of webinars.

Students enrolled in courses offered by EOCCS-certified institutions, whether through MOOC platforms, direct school channels, or within corporate settings, can rest assured — they are engaging in education officially recognized and professionally relevant.

More significantly, this certification heralds the official recognition of online learning as a substantive and indispensable source of knowledge deserving a place in every learner’s portfolio.

What do you think of education of business management in India? In your personal observation, what are the key differences between management education in India and Europe?

India stands prominently as a global hub of innovation, boasting a robust economic outlook and a vibrant society. With a longstanding successful integration of business and STEM, India is well-positioned to excel in an increasingly digitized global economy. In my view, higher education plays a pivotal role in propelling India and Asia forward.

To truly distinguish themselves on the global stage, Indian business schools must adopt a systemic approach to cultivate a genuinely international academic environment. In many ways, they grapple with challenges akin to those faced by European business schools, encompassing the creation of engaging learning environments, the pursuit of relevant and impactful research, and the facilitation of an environment conducive to international collaboration.

In this competitive landscape, Indian business schools enjoy significant advantages, including interdisciplinary curricula, the prevalence of English as the academic lingua franca, and a highly selective admission process. This selective approach ensures that top talent not only thrives but also assumes leadership roles, contributing to the continued success of these institutions

Is there any reason that only six institutions in India are EQUIS accredited? If yes, please explain.

In the pursuit of global excellence and a commitment to ongoing enhancement, as I alluded to in the previous question, many educational institutions are turning to accreditation to demonstrate their value and provide stakeholders with robust quality assurance. Accreditation, in essence, can play a significant role in elevating a school’s international brand and reputation.

EQUIS, renowned as the most rigorous process for business and management institutions, presents an ambitious yet rewarding path. The six accredited institutions in India should be proud of their achievement.

I anticipate a growing number of Indian institutions pursuing accreditation, thereby becoming integral members of a global network of schools united in their commitment to excellence and continuous improvement.

Engaging in meaningful discussions with deans of esteemed Indian establishments, we have explored the challenges and advancements in the sector, seeking ways to contribute to their strategic quality objectives.

If an institute in India is aspiring for EQUIS accreditation, what should be the three indispensable areas that the institute should really pay attention to?

The question is quite straightforward when viewed through the lens of EQUIS accreditation. Its framework pivots around three transversal standards that are expected to weave seamlessly into the fabric of an institution’s ethos and operations.

Firstly, establishing robust connections with the world of practice is essential, ensuring that academic endeavours are intricately linked with real-world applications and industry dynamics.

Secondly, internationalization stands as a crucial benchmark, necessitating a global perspective in educational initiatives, fostering cross-cultural understanding, and preparing students for a borderless professional landscape.

Lastly, the accreditation standards emphasize a strategic commitment to ethics, responsibility, and sustainability, thereby underscoring the institution’s dedication to cultivating principled leadership and a positive impact on society and the environment.

These standards collectively serve as guiding pillars, steering institutions towards a comprehensive and impactful approach to education and management.

People usually know about accreditation of a business school/ institution, but EFMDEQUIS has accredited some business programs as well. What inspired the EFMD for accreditation of study programs?

EQUIS accredits entire business schools while EFMD Programme Accreditation focuses on accrediting individual degree programmes. Both accreditation systems uphold rigorous standards in the areas of internationalization, corporate connections, and ethics, responsibility, and sustainability. However, certain nuances arise based on the accreditation scope.

For instance, when evaluating an entire school, the quality and quantity of research may carry greater weight compared to assessing the quality of a single degree programme. Achieving a high level of internationalization may be more feasible for a specific degree programme than for the entire portfolio of school programmes under EQUIS.

EFMD Programme Accreditation is sometimes viewed as a strategic precursor to attaining institutional accreditation, as schools may leverage it as a stepping stone.

The branded EFMD Accredited portfolio not only facilitates a deeper exploration of a programme’s strategic development but also enhances its global market positioning through distinctive labels such as “EFMD Accredited MBA.” Consequently, some EQUIS-accredited schools are choosing to submit their flagship programmes to the EFMD Accredited process, reinforcing the synergy between EFMD’s quality services systems and the broader global peer learning community. This strategic alignment enables schools to navigate accreditation processes more seamlessly and positions their programs with distinction on the global stage.

What message would you like to send to our readers?

I would like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to be part of the enriching experiences awaiting at EFMD conferences and our various professional development events held throughout the year. I would like to place special emphasis on our upcoming Asia Conference scheduled for November.

These events serve as dynamic platforms for fostering collaboration, exchanging insights, and staying abreast of the latest developments in the ever-evolving landscape of education and management. The success of these gatherings depends on a diverse community of professionals who convene to explore, learn, and shape the future of management education together.


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