Thursday, July 31, 2014

Moving to More Difficult Concepts in Management Education

Management education focuses on the development of business gurus that seek to run companies for greater expansion and profit. These programs often talk about management skills, people skills, business skills, finance, and many other primary functions of a manager. A paper by Waddock & Lozano (2013) helps us think beyond primary knowledge and into concepts like reflective practices that develop awareness, systems thinking, and ethical values. 

Reflection is a process of understanding oneself in a context of events. Those who are reflective think about the business, its impact, and themselves and can understand events. This understanding leads to better management practices in the future. 

Students that develop reflective thinking are more thoughtful about how business practices impact others around them. Without reflection decisions can be limited and self-interested and such thinking has led to major calamity not only for businesses but also stakeholders. 

A higher order concept called systems thinking should also be developed in students. Systems thinking takes time to develop and master. It is a process of understanding how the pieces create an entire system and how that system operates in the market. 

Systems’ thinking is particularly important in international businesses where supply chains, information networks, social networks, and processes have a larger impact. Each of the pieces fits within the whole of the operation and needs to be well thought out. 

Finally, understanding and implementing ethical values in businesses. The use of unethical practices not only damages commerce but also the reputation of the business and the effective management of people. Students should be aware of ethical considerations when making choices. 

Management students often do well grasping the basic business conceptions offered in any course. They may have more difficulty understand the more complex issues associated with reflection, systems thinking and ethic. The concepts require many connections between the various concepts of business and greater societal responsibility. It may be wise to introduce these concepts in the undergraduate level and try and connect them tighter in the graduate level. 

Waddock, S. & Lozano, J. (2013). Developing more holistic management education: lessons learned from two programs. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12 (2).

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