The Sloan School of Management has joined with the two top universities in the People's Republic of China (PRC) to launch a major new collaboration aimed at strengthening China's international management education programs and conducting research on the emergence of the world's largest new market.
Under the auspices of the China Management Education Project, Sloan is working with the business schools of Fudan University in Shanghai and Tsinghua University in Beijing to provide both the faculty development and the curriculum development required to educate a new class of manager for the international arena.
In the process, Sloan faculty and students will build relationships with students, faculty and industry leaders in China that will allow them to learn more about the special challenges facing the nation as it makes the transition to a globally integrated market economy.
"This is an important opportunity for both China and the US," said Sloan School Dean Glen L. Urban. "Through management education and research, we can help to establish the common ground of understanding that can lead to the successful integration of China into the world economy for the benefit of all."
"There is a huge demand for trained managers in China as we embark on the path to a market economy," said Professor Yuan Xu, associate dean of the School of Management at Fudan University, during a recent visit to Cambridge. "This program will allow us to improve the quality of our management faculty while implementing a new curriculum."
"The area of international management is critical for us," agreed Dean Chunjun Zhao of the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University. "Our students need the basic skills and insights required to work effectively with international companies and with new ventures in the global environment." Dean Zhao is also vice chairman of the National MBA Education Advisory Committee for the PRC.
An initial curriculum for the Chinese schools has been developed based largely on a series of relevant classes drawn from Sloan's current curriculum. Plans call for selected faculty groups from Fudan and Tsinghua to come to Sloan beginning in January 1997 to help teach the core courses that they will then adapt for transfer to their home universities. This process will continue through September 1998, when the program will be launched in China. Throughout this period and until 2001, Sloan faculty will also make frequent visits to the Chinese campuses to oversee continuing curriculum refinement and to build research relationships. These visits will be augmented with ongoing videoconference contacts among the schools.
"Sloan students will benefit greatly from this collaborative exchange," explained Donald R. Lessard, Epoch Foundation Professor of International Management at Sloan. "The visiting faculty will provide case studies and perspectives from Chinese industry, and our faculty will be able to incorporate insights drawn from their expanded research relationships into new and existing classes, both for our MBA program and for our executive programs."
Sloan has a long history of institution building in other countries. In the 1960s, for example, the School played a leading role in the development of the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta. In 1995, Sloan completed a successful five-year program to push the development of the Nanyang Business School at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
Sloan's many current involvments in Asia have grown out of Professor Lester Thurow's initiatives as dean nearly a decade ago. Insisting that students would need to know as much about China and Chinese-based economies as they do about traditional western economies, he made a strategic commitment to developing relationships with countries in the region, including Singapore and China.
"Our unique approach to China builds on our past experience as well as our strengths in faculty development, curriculum development and research," said Senior Associate Dean Alan F. White, the chief architect of Sloan's program. "We expect to learn a great deal about the special forces at work in a emerging economy as we help Tsinghua and Fudan develop an innovative new International Management Program that will help the Chinese business community work more effectively with the business communities of other nations."
The Management Education Project is one of a growing number of China-related collaborations and activities at MIT. These projects include initiatives in such crucial areas as infrastructure development, the environment and language (see accompanying story). The PRC is not the only focus of Sloan's international involvements; a number of initiatives with other countries are in various stages of planning and execution, including Singapore, Thailand, India, Taiwan, Mexico and Chile.
Sloan is the most international of the top business schools, with 37 percent of its students hailing from other countries. The School's network of alumni/ae hold key positions in 82 nations around the world. "The driving force for our international relationships is our students as well as our alumni," Dean Urban said. "It is our responsibility as educators to build the critical foundation of knowledge and understanding they will need to succeed in this diverse world where virtually all business is international."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on July 24, 1996.