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    The StratEDgy blog is intended to be a thoughtful hub for discussion about strategy and competition in higher education.


Business Schools: Who Are Your Competitors?

I’m preparing to speak at the GMAC Annual Conference next week and thought I’d preview one of the topics here, to get your reaction.

June 13, 2012

I’m preparing to speak at the GMAC Annual Conference next week and thought I’d preview one of the topics here, to get your reaction.

The title of the session is Current Trends in Management Education That Have You Rethinking Business as Usual and one of the themes is competition.  My point here is that it’s increasing – and increasingly coming from places you might not suspect.   For example, if you were a top-ranked US business school, you would certainly consider your competition to be Stanford or MIT Sloan, or any of the other highly ranked business schools in the much-publicized BusinessWeek Ranking.  But the Financial Times ranks schools on an international basis and, as we saw in a previous post, the US is losing dominance in that ranking. 

But wait – there’s more!  What about some of the organizational types, below?   Might they, too, be competitors of sorts – either now or in the future – for what business schools currently offer?  For example:

  • Training firms:  They know how to deliver in-person and online content to various management levels within an organization, and some of them already work with universities that will give academic credit for their training programs.
  • Strategy consulting firms:  They’re known for developing people and can hire non-business graduates and give them enough training within a few months to make them competitive with your MBAs.  What if they started selling these services?
  • Publishers: Vast amounts of content, including books, articles, background notes and cases.  All they need is a technology to deliver the content widely and people to facilitate – and business school publishers already have and do this.
  • Continuing education units:  They focus more on practical application than research and offer programming aimed at working adults. 
  • Corporate universities:  They already hire some of your faculty for special programs.  They also have a large employee audience and desire to retain and develop these people.  Also, some corporate universities now train other companies’ employees.
  • For-profits.  They have large marketing budgets, already know how to scale delivery and are gaining on assessment.
  • Free stuff:  If all some people want is the knowledge/skills, perhaps they don’t need to spend two years with you.

What other potential competitors should be on this list?  What’s the likelihood they’ll become full-fledged competitors to traditional business schools? 


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