EQUIS Accreditation System Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

LatestNews 2017 EQUIS 20th anniversaryThis year marks the 20th anniversary of EQUIS - EFMD Quality Improvement System, launched two decades ago at the Deans and Directors General Conference at Schloss Gracht, now part of the ESMT Berlin.

This international quality benchmark and improvement process was created to give European and, subsequently, business schools worldwide, a rigorous tool to assess, certify and improve their quality in 10 key areas, including governance, programmes, students, faculty, research and, foremost, internationalisation, ethics, responsibility and sustainability as well as corporate engagement.

Since its establishment, a strong emphasis on internationalisation and corporate connections have been the differentiating points of the EQUIS business school accreditation system. Coupled with recently added ethics, responsibility and sustainability standards, they have created a solid framework for quality measurement for international business schools.

In this interview, Gordon Shenton the former Quality Services Director and the founding father of EQUIS, talks about the evolution of EQUIS since the initial idea, its development and core values, and draws some perspectives for the future.
EQUIS is not only a quality assessment but also a quality improvement process, very much rooted in the mission of EFMD. As David Saunders, the Dean of Smith School of Business at the Queen's University in Canada and Chairman of the EQUIS Accreditation Board, comments: “No matter how good your school is, you can always improve and that is a critical core component of EQUIS – continuous improvement.”

EQUIS has always aimed at building a community of mutual learning and best practice for business schools coming from different higher-education systems. Sue Cox, Dean Emerita of Lancaster University Management School in the UK and former EFMD Board member, stresses the emphasis on schools’ differentiating points in the EQUIS quality framework. “EQUIS actively encourages schools to consider their unique selling proposition within the strategic planning process,” she says.

Over the last 20 years, EFMD has conducted over 600 peer review visits, with over a thousand outstanding experts devoting their time and knowledge to the development of the system.

More than 10 deans and experts who have contributed to the development of the EQUIS accreditation system have given their voices to the value and role EQUIS has played in enhancing the quality of management education worldwide as well as the future development of the management education industry.
“EQUIS is a way of celebrating excellence in diversity and I’m delighted to see how the EQUIS system and the accredited schools have evolved in these 20 years. There is no one harmonised definition of quality but there is an excellence benchmark and a striving for perfection in the continuous improvement process,” adds Eric Cornuel, EFMD’s Director General and CEO.

In its short history, EQUIS accreditation has become widely recognised by potential students, employers, the wider business education industry and the media as the most holistic and rigorous accreditation process, often being a pre-requisite for entry to rankings.

With an estimated number of 15,000 business schools worldwide, only a handful (167 institutions from 41 countries) hold the EQUIS quality label and they can say without being too boastful that they are part of “1% of leading business schools.”

To commemorate this landmark achievement, EFMD plans to celebrate the success of EQUIS over the course of 2017 at EFMD events across the international community.

More information on EQUIS is available at www.efmd.org/equis

Value of EQUIS and EPAS Accreditations: Videos

In a few short videos, Prof. Michael Osbaldeston, EFMD Director of Quality Services, explains the value of EQUIS and EPAS accreditations, the process, a possible pathway between EPAS and EQUIS, the cost-benefit report, as well as internationalisation, alumni and research dimensions of the accreditations.

Please find below direct links to the podcasts where he answers the following questions:

- What is the value for schools in participating in EQUIS and EPAS?

- What role does EFMD feel alumni should be playing?

- The cost of accreditation versus its value

- Is EPAS a valid pathway to EQUIS?

- What is the value from all the work required to complete accreditation assessment reports?

- What are the challenges of internationalisation?

- How is EFMD approaching the impact of research?

The whole playlist with all the individual videos can be accessed via the following link or by pasting the following URL http://bit.ly/1LxOAvP

EPAS logo13 LR"The process of the EPAS accreditation has helped sharpen our focus on the strategic priorities. A mission and strategy are often easy to formulate but more difficult to implement. By focusing on the processes in the EPAS framework we know what variables we can work on over the coming years in our journey of educational excellence."
Prof. dr. Rudy Martens, Dean, Faculty of Applied Economics, University EQUIS logo13 LRof Antwerp, Belgium

"EQUIS accreditation is one of the most important benchmarks available to business schools to ensure excellence in teaching, student experience, research and outreach. I am very pleased that our substantial effort to continually improve in all aspects of what we do has been well recognised."
Prof. Jon Reast, Dean, Bradford University School of Management, UK

Learn more about the EFMD Quality Services offer: download the Quality Services brochure or access directly EQUIS and EPAS webpages.

EQUIS Re-accredited Seven Leading Business Schools

EFMD would like to warmly congratulate the following schools who have recently been reaccredited by EQUIS:

•    Copenhagen Business School, DenmarkEQUIS logo13 LR
•    Korea University Business School, Republic of Korea
•    Waikato Management School, Waikato Management School, New Zealand
•    Otago Business School, University of Otago, New Zealand
•    Kozminski University, Poland
•    Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
•   Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London, UK

"With EFMD's accreditation of CBS for a further five years it is once again confirmed that CBS is an education institution of a particularly high quality in terms of research, education, students and teachers. EFMD has numerous criteria that business schools must meet, and this year's visit had a special focus on CBS's development strategy. I find that undergoing a thorough examination by an independent group of experts has a very positive impact on the entire organisation. At CBS we attach great importance to our international accreditations. They are conditional on our ability to meet international criteria for high quality in our work. The very best people scrutinise our strategy as an international business school."
Dr. Per Holten-Andersen, President, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

"Since its initial accreditation in 2007, Korea University Business School (KUBS) has come a long way in reaching its international academic aspirations. KUBS has been able to enhance its educational and research standings in the global setting through redesigning of its curriculum, the construction of a new business school facility, and greater interationalization of faculty and programs, among other efforts. Through its second consecutive five-year EQUIS re-accreditation, KUBS continues to review its processes and achievements and hopes to further develop as an international business educational institution."
Prof. Dong-One Kim, Dean, Korea University Business School, Republic of Korea

"The Waikato Management School is proud to be accredited by EFMD / EQUIS. The rigour and care of the accreditation review process provide an invaluable quality assurance mechanism for us, and signal to current and prospective students that at the WMS they can be confident of receiving a transformative educational experience that will provide them with globally relevant knowledge, skills, and connections."
Prof. Don Ross, Dean, Waikato Management School, Waikato Management School, New Zealand

"The University of Otago Business School is pleased to have been awarded our third EQUIS accreditation. The international recognition of quality the accreditation brings is highly valued by the School, the University, and our graduates and alumni. We are continually looking for ways to improve;  and in such a distant location from the rest of the world, this accreditation confirms that we are maintaining the high management education standards we seek."
Prof. George Benwell, Dean, Otago Business School, University of Otago, New Zealand


"We are truly honoured to have received a full EQUIS accreditation for the third time. Kozminski University (KU) was awarded its first EQUIS accreditation in 1999 so, for more that 15 years, KU has been guided by EQUIS accreditation standards. During this period, we came to recognize our weaknesses and done all we can to overcome them. As a result, KU has gradually matured as a truly international academic institution. In this process, EQUIS standards and criteria have provided KU with a valuable source of benchmarks and best practices that guided future development and provided motivating challenges for KU staff members."

Prof. Witold Bielecki, Rector, Kozminski University, Poland 

"Every reaccreditation cycle starts as a reminder of the almost unimaginable progress we have made and the valuable lessons we have learned so far. It continues by revealing the future challenges we are yet to face. It then ends not only by clearly showing the way forward but by empowering us to stay on course and be brave enough to continue to grow from a regional to an internationally recognised business school. We are honoured to be an EQUIS accredited school and we are proud of our achievements that were made possible by dedicated staff and supporting partners."
Prof. Metka Tekavcic, Dean, Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia   

Prof. Michael Osbaldeston, the EFMD Director of Quality Services, added, "I would like to congratulate the schools that have gone through the reaccreditation process. If you are a student, parent, recruiter or have an interest in business education then the first and most important credential to look for in a school is does it have accreditation from EFMD."

More information on EQUIS is available at www.efmd.org/equis

EQUIS Accreditation Awarded to Bond, CKGSB, ESMT & LUISS

2015 EFMD EQUIS Accreditated Business Schools 03

EFMD would like to warmly congratulate Bond University, Faculty of Business, Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, ESMT European School of Management and Technology & LUISS Business School including the Department of Business and Management who have just been awarded EQUIS accreditation.


This takes the number of accredited schools to 159 across 40 countries.

Please read below what the Deans of the accredited schools say about the achievement.

“EQUIS is an internationally recognised stamp of excellence and going through the extensive accreditation process itself delivered significant value. The process involved so much more than the supply of data to develop forced rankings, guides and lists. In addition to self-analysis, an in-depth review of our School, strategy, programs, research, community outreach and global competitive positioning was conducted by a panel of our international peers. The constructive, supportive advice of the professional peer review team ensured it was a positive learning process for us and one that provided significant guidance and direction. Our students are assured they will receive international recognition for their qualification, which is absolutely vital in today’s competitive global marketplace. With less than 2% of the world's 13,000 business programs EQUIS Accredited, Bond University and its Faculty of Business are in very good company indeed.”
Prof. Mark Hirst, Executive Dean, Faculty of Business, Bond University, Australia

“We are delighted to gain official accreditation from EQUIS, which is well recognised around the world. It will give us more opportunities to exchange best practices with other leading business schools. We are confident that it will also help us continue to innovate in developing global leaders of today and tomorrow.”
Prof. Bing Xiang, Dean, Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, China


“We are delighted to have been granted EQUIS accreditation and would like to thank EFMD and in particular the EQUIS Peer Review Team for its constructive and helpful feedback. We appreciate the time and effort they have spent working with us. ESMT is committed to delivering the best business education and preparing their graduates to excel from the first day of their careers, and in this light, we look forward to working together with EFMD to constantly improve and maintain the highest levels of quality.”
Prof. Jörg Rocholl, President, ESMT European School of Management and Technology, Germany

“LUISS Business School including the Department of Business and Management are honored to receive the EQUIS accreditation. The entire process has been challenging and at the same time highly rewarding for the development of new and relevant practices and to grow at the international level. Our multidisciplinary perspective combined with a strong network of corporate relationships and an innovative approach to Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability have received a powerful external endorsement from this process. The whole experience has been valuable to our institution and we warmly thank EFMD and the peer review team for their support. EQUIS accreditation is a central part and a stepping stone of our institutional strategy.”
Prof. Paolo Boccardelli, Dean, LUISS Business School, Italy


Prof. Michael Osbaldeston, the EFMD Director of Quality Services & EQUIS Director added: "We are delighted to welcome four new schools into the community of EQUIS accredited schools. EQUIS accreditation ensures a rigorous quality improvement process, involving a thorough self-assessment, a visit of an international peer review team, and finally a very experienced Awarding Body evaluating the assessment and findings of the review team to determine whether the School should be granted accreditation. EQUIS benchmarks the School against international standards in terms of governance, programmes, faculty, students, research, and foremost, corporate engagement, internationalisation and ethics, responsibility and sustainability. There are currently no substitutes for such an in-depth assessment of quality and all the schools should be commended for their commitment to excellence."

The benefits of accreditation include:
  • Information for the global education market on the basis of substance
  • International recognition of excellence: international development
  • Mechanism for international benchmarking with the best
  • Sharing of good practice and mutual learning
  • Agenda for quality improvement and future development
  • Acceleration of quality improvement in international management education
  • Legitimacy to internal and external stakeholders that you have a strong international reputation (donors, alumni, government) and that your school meets the high standards of the best business schools in the world
  • Becoming part of a network of top schools to develop relationships with fellow EFMD accredited schools for research, exchanging best practices on programmes, etc.
  • International legitimacy vis-a-vis recruiting international students, creating double degree partnerships, forming international exchange relationships, recruiting executive development custom programme clients, recruiting new faculty.
More information on EQUIS is available at www.efmd.org/equis

EFMD Awards EQUIS Accreditation to Glasgow University Adam Smith BS

EQUIS Accreditaed 02

We are delighted to announce that the EQUIS Accreditation has recently been awarded to Adam Smith Business School within the University of Glasgow. Congratulations!

This takes the number of accredited schools to 156 across 40 countries.

“The Adam Smith Business School, indeed the University of Glasgow, are extremely pleased and excited with the EQUIS accreditation award. As a consequence of undertaking the accreditation process, the School has learned much and has much to build on. We look forward with greater confidence in our efforts to enhancing further the standing and performance of the School, and to engaging fully with EFMD and the EQUIS team.”
Prof. Jim Love, Head, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, UK

The following schools were reaccredited by EQUIS:
Please read below what the Deans of the reaccredited Schools say about the achievement.

"The review highlighted a number of areas of strength across the UNSW Business School, including our impressive reputation in the national market, strong corporate connections, the quality of our students and academic staff, the impressive careers of our graduates, our outstanding teaching performance, and the strong research ethos that permeates throughout what we do. There are over 10,000 business schools in the world, but only 156 have received EQUIS accreditation and not all are granted the full five-year accreditation, which places the School in an exclusive group of the world's leading business schools."
Prof. Chris Styles, Dean, University of New South Wales Business School, Australia
 
"This third renewal of our EQUIS accreditation is proof of our constant efforts and the way the School devotes all its resources to reaching and even surpassing the highest quality standards. HEC Montréal has been among the world’s top business schools for over 15 years now, and we are very proud of that achievement."
Mr. Michel Patry, Director, HEC Montréal, Canada

"Universidad de los Andes School of Management is delighted to receive news about its EQUIS re-accreditation. Since 2003, year in which the School was accredited by EQUIS for the first time, this process has been fundamental for the development of our School in different dimensions such as strengthening our faculty and research, gaining international positioning and enhancing the relations with different types of organisations. Being part of a select group of Schools characterised for their high quality standards and impact on society has helped us create a continuous improvement environment which allows us to offer high quality education in Colombia. This achievement is a joint effort of faculty, students, staff and other stakeholders who are deeply committed to this endeavour."
Dr. Eric Rodríguez, Dean, School of Management, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

"We are delighted to have been reaccredited by EQUIS. The stringent process of the EFMD and the international experts who carry out the accreditation really help us to gage how our programmes and initiatives measure up against other leading global business schools. Their final conclusions and recommendations help us to focus our constant innovation and investment on key areas of the institution where most impact can be made."
Mr. Enrique Bolaños, President, INCAE Business School, Costa Rica

"We are very happy to have received re-accreditation for five new years. This is very important for BI Norwegian Business schools pursuit to reach our international ambitions. I will also like to thank the peer review committee for a good process and both insightful an constructive comment to improve the school even further."
Dr. Inge Jan Henjesand, Rector, BI Norwegian Business School, Norway

"We are proud to be among the only six institutions within the German-speaking countries to receive the EQUIS accreditation for five years. After our accreditations in 2009 and 2012, this shows evidence of our continuous quality improvement and institutional development. Again we attained insightful feedback through the peer-review process that is much appreciated. We are confident that this 5-year accreditation will enable us to follow our strategic priorities and continue to evolve both our strengths and opportunities."
Prof. Harald Gall, Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics, University of Zurich, Switzerland

"We are extremely pleased to have been awarded the highly sought-after 5 year EQUIS accreditation status by EFMD. This award reflects the University of Bath School of Management’s consistent approach to recruiting high calibre students, providing high quality programmes and delivering world class, impactful research. As Dean, I am delighted that the hard work of my colleagues across the School has been recognised in this way and I look forward to continuing our journey as a leading international School of Management."
Prof. Veronica Hope Hailey, Dean, School of Management, University of Bath, UK

"EQUIS accreditation is one of the most important benchmarks available to business schools to ensure excellence in teaching, student experience, research and outreach. I am very pleased that our substantial effort to continually improve in all aspects of what we do has been well recognised."
Prof. Jon Reast, Dean, Bradford University School of Management, UK

Prof. Michael Osbaldeston, the EFMD Director of Quality Services & EQUIS Director added: "We are delighted to welcome Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, into the community of EQUIS accredited schools. EQUIS accreditation ensures a rigorous quality improvement process, involving a thorough self-assessment, a visit of an international peer review team, and finally a very experienced Awarding Body evaluating the assessment and findings of the review team to determine whether the School should be granted accreditation. EQUIS benchmarks the School against international standards in terms of governance, programmes, faculty, students, research, and foremost, corporate engagement, internationalisation and ethics, responsibility and sustainability. There are currently no substitutes for such an in-depth assessment of quality and all the schools should be commended for their commitment to excellence."

The benefits of accreditation include:
  • Information for the global education market on the basis of substance
  • International recognition of excellence: international development
  • Mechanism for international benchmarking with the best
  • Sharing of good practice and mutual learning
  • Agenda for quality improvement and future development
  • Acceleration of quality improvement in international management education
  • Legitimacy to internal and external stakeholders that you have a strong international reputation (donors, alumni, government) and that your school meets the high standards of the best business schools in the world
  • Becoming part of a network of top schools to develop relationships with fellow EFMD accredited schools for research, exchanging best practices on programmes, etc.
  • International legitimacy vis-a-vis recruiting international students, creating double degree partnerships, forming international exchange relationships, recruiting executive development custom programme clients, recruiting new faculty.
More information on EQUIS is available at www.efmd.org/equis

Quality Services Events in the Second Half of 2015

Would you like to learn more about the EFMD Quality Services offer? Do you manage the accreditation process and wish to gain a thorough understanding of the process, standards & criteria? The EFMD Quality Services have different types of seminars that will address your needs, wherever you might be in your accreditation journey.

EQUIS logo13 LRWe are happy to publish the upcoming accreditation events in the second half of 2015.

Learn more about EQUIS, EPAS and EDAF by attending one of the different types of information events:

-    Information sessions: Get a glimpse of the process! These events are targeted at Business Schools with little knowledge of EFMD accreditations and quality services (2-3 hours sessions)

-    Introductory seminars: Already know a little but still undecided? These seminars are targeted at Business Schools that consider EFMD accreditation or mentoring, but have not decided yet if or when to start the process (typically, a half-day seminar)
EPAS logo13 LR
-    Standard accreditation seminars: Decided to embark on the accreditation journey? These seminars are targeted at Schools that have already decided to pursue either EQUIS or EPAS, are considering applying for EQUIS or EPAS accreditation, or are holding active eligibility and wish to get a better understanding about the system. They allow for an in-depth preparation of the application phase (typically, a 1,5-day seminar)

-    XXL accreditation seminars: Brilliant! Already in! We will guide you through the process. These seminars are targeted at EQUIS and EPAS eligible and accredited Schools. The seminars provide in-depth guidance on how to complete the different steps of the EQUIS or EPAS accreditation process successfully:  how to compile a Self-Assessment Report, how to organise an effective Peer Review Visit and how to manage the post-accreditation phase including the write-up of progress reports (typically, a 2-day seminar)

EDAF logo15 LRStill uncertain about which of the above events is most suitable for you and your School? Please contact the Quality Services Office via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We are always happy to assist you!

The QS department plans the following events in the coming months:

XXL accreditation seminars
-    EPAS XXL Accreditation Seminar in Brussels on 17-18 September 2015 – EFMD Office
-    EQUIS XXL Accreditation Seminar in Brussels on 17-18 September 2015 – hosted by Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management

Standard accreditation seminars
-    EQUIS and EPAS Accreditation Seminars in Prague on 15-16 October 2015 – hosted by University of Economics, Prague – Faculty of International Relations

Introductory seminars
-    On EQUIS, EPAS and EDAF in Phuket, Thailand on 22 November 2015 (after the EFMD GN Asia Annual Conference)
-    On EPAS and EDAF in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 1 December 2015 (after the EFMD Africa Conference)

Practical information about registration, prices and logistics will be published on the EFMD website in due course.

EQUIS Policy Revisions 2014 - Multi-Campus Operations, Collaborative Provision, Institutional Change & Restructuring

equis2013The 2014 revision of the EQUIS documents include three significant changes in the EQUIS Process Manual Annexes, all related to specific features of business school operations.

1. Policy on Multi-Campus Operations (Annex 12)

Many business schools are nowadays spreading their activities across multiple campuses and, in some cases, it is not even clear anymore which campus is to be considered the headquarter (home) campus. Given that quality may differ greatly within a business school’s campus network, the EQUIS process must include a review of the school’s activities at different campus locations, the linkages between them, the degree of managerial and operational independence granted to them and the form of control exercised by senior management. The purpose of the new annex is to ensure that schools in process supply sufficiently detailed information on their campus networks at all stages of the accreditation process.

The new EQUIS policy requires schools to include all of its campuses and provide a detailed description in the Self-Assessment Report with an informative summary added to the datasheet and supporting evidence presented in the base room. The information to be submitted includes: Description of the activity portfolio carried out at each campus location, local resource support, governance mechanisms to control campus activities and to ensure coordination within the campus network, quality assurance, financial performance and risks specific to local operations. Multi-campus strategies, development objectives and performance milestones need to be explained in detail as well. Peer Review Visits may involve several campuses, typically the headquarter campus and the perceived weakest links within the campus network.

For further information, see Annex 12, EQUIS Process Manual Annexes.

2. Policy on Collaborative Provision (Annex 13)

The 2014 document changes serve the purpose of further detailing existing policy. An increasing number of business schools deliver degree programmes in collaboration with partner institutions. The partners may be located in the same country or offshore; they may be academic or non-academic institutions. Degrees may be awarded solely by one of the partners, jointly by several partners (joint degrees) or individually by several (typically not more than two) partners (dual degrees). Collaborative provision is normally regulated by bilateral agreements. Consortium structures can be set up with a portfolio of bilateral contracts or may be formally operated as a joint venture.

Collaborative provision implies that the business school requesting EQUIS accreditation is likely not to fully control the design, delivery and management of the respective degree programmes. It is therefore necessary to assess during an EQUIS review how collaboration is impacting quality and therefore indirectly the EQUIS brand.

The document revisions clarify that some forms of collaborative provision (e.g. dual degree offerings in support of student outward mobility for the School’s main degree programmes) have become a mainstay in management education and are therefore unlikely to warrant special attention under this policy. Off-campus delivery in cooperation with a lesser reputed partner institution definitely will.

The revised policy makes the information requirements more explicit. Schools are required to describe all collaborative activities (including partner institutions) in full as an appendix to the Self-Assessment Report with an informative summary also included in Datasheet. The Base Room must include partnership agreements, policy documents, minutes, (financial) data and any further evidence needed to understand the School’s collaborative activities. Otherwise, the previously established process still applies.

For further information, see Annex 13, EQUIS Process Manual Annexes.

3. Policy on Major Institutional Change and Restructuring (Annex 18)

The existing Policy on Major Restructuring has been modified to clarify its scope and when it is necessary to notify the EQUIS Office. In addition, the potential consequences have been strengthened, all in an effort to protect the EQUIS brand.

The addition ‘Institutional Change’ to the title of this policy reflects the observation that ‘major restructuring’ is in many instances triggered by ‘major institutional change’. The parent of an accredited school may for instance decide to merge the business school with another unit, which can alter governance, autonomy, strategic outlook and operations in fundamental ways. Alternatively, an accredited school may be negatively affected by changes in its economic environment (e.g. departure of a major donor, tightening of student visa regulations), which can eventually serve as a trigger for major restructuring.

The 2014 version clarifies the policy’s intended scope: The policy already applies when it can be reasonably assumed that major institutional change will occur (rather than when major institutional change or the resulting restructuring actually materialise). It also includes instances where institutional change and restructuring are not the result of a deliberate act by the accredited school.

Schools need to notify the EQUIS Office without undue delay in case the institutional change is potentially “major” and then the previously established procedure applies. Failing to submit notification, submitting the notification too late or misrepresenting the institutional change and its consequences can lead to the suspension of accreditation at the discretion of the EQUIS Accreditation Board.

For further information, see Annex 18, EQUIS Process Manual Annexes.

EFMD Introduces Broader Coverage of Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability to EQUIS

equis2013The 2013 edition of the EQUIS documents for the first time broadly recognizes the role of business schools as ‘globally responsible citizens’ and as advocates of ethical and sustainable behavior in business and society. ‘Ethics, Responsibility & Sustainability (E∙R∙S)’ has been added as a transversal feature to the EQUIS system implying that these aspects are now covered throughout the EQUIS Standards & Criteria (S&C) – with a dedicated chapter (replacing the chapter on ‘Contributions to the Community’) as well as sections in most other chapters. E∙R∙S is therefore positioned in the same way as ‘Internationalization’ and ‘Corporate Connections’ (see Figure).

Figure: The EQUIS Criteria Framework
equisframe















The approach adopted by EFMD reflects the belief that E∙R∙S is relevant for every aspect of business school management and operations. The starting point for business schools should be to reflect on the role of E∙R∙S in mission, vision and strategy (EQUIS S&C, chapter 1). The adopted strategy should be backed up with clearly defined objectives, specific milestones and adequate resource support. It is further assumed that the strategy is broadly communicated to the various stakeholder groups.

Business schools should integrate E∙R∙S into their educational offerings, which include degree programmes (EQUIS S&C, chapter 2) and non-degree executive education (EQUIS S&C, chapter 6). Reporting should differentiate between offerings dedicated to E∙R∙S and coverage in other programmes. In the case of degree programmes, detailed information should be provided on how E∙R∙S is integrated in programme design, delivery and assessment. It is certainly expected that applicant schools have moved beyond the still widely used approach of simply tagging on an E∙R∙S module to the curriculum with no obvious connection to the programme core. In addition, E∙R∙S should be linked to all facets of student management, which includes recruitment, admissions, scholarships and awards, diversity management, personal development as well as support provided for (extra-) curricular student engagement (EQUIS S&C, chapter 3).

The new standard will challenge business schools to reflect on how E∙R∙S can be mapped into faculty management (EQUIS S&C, chapter 4) and how faculty can be encouraged to integrate E∙R∙S into research & development (EQUIS S&C, chapter 5). Applicants should also present evidence that they are actively contributing to the ethical, responsible and sustainable development of businesses and business practices (EQUIS S&C, chapter 10). Explicit policies should be in place to ensure that E∙R∙S is firmly embedded in the School’s infrastructure management, operations, and administration (EQUIS S&C, chapter 7).

A transversal chapter dedicated to E∙R∙S (EQUIS S&C, chapter 9) represents the anchor of the new standard. It gives Schools the opportunity to summarize their E∙R∙S-related achievements and to report on their contributions to the ethical, responsible and sustainable development of local as well as global communities.

The revised EQUIS documents are operational as of now. Schools in process must ensure that they comply with all E∙R∙S-related changes, which also includes an additional section in the EQUIS data sheet and revised information requirements for the Self-Assessment Report and the Base Room.

Given the holistic nature of the EQUIS framework and the emphasis placed on diversity, business schools will have considerable degrees of freedom in complying with the E∙R∙S standard. The introduction of E∙R∙S should therefore not be misinterpreted as a fundamental questioning of management education as practiced by most business schools today.

In recent years, many EFMD member institutions have adjusted their educational offerings, their research foci and in some cases even their strategic development trajectories to address issues such as global warming, unethical behavior of high-profile managers and business practices perceived to be socially irresponsible. These achievements have largely escaped public attention. With the revised EQUIS framework, business schools are given a more explicit opportunity to document their multi-faceted contributions to E∙R∙S and to achieve recognition for embracing their wider role in society.

If you have any questions or require further details on EQUIS please contact us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What does the future hold for academic research?

imagesMost deans of leading business schools would agree that being a top-performing faculty member is synonymous with being a top researcher. The production of widely cited A-level articles has become the core ingredient for a successful academic career, leading to peer recognition, tenure and ever-larger pecuniary rewards in the form of higher base salaries and bonuses.

At the same time, though, many practitioners would argue that the way academics are conducting research is the very essence of what is wrong with business schools today. They claim that research methodologies and outcomes are too often detached from the realities of managing enterprises and that researchers lack the motivation as well as all too often the ability to credibly surpass Andrew Pettigrew’s double hurdle of generating academically meaningful as well as practically relevant knowledge.

What is particularly worrying about this long-standing debate is the apparent unresponsiveness of the business school community, which continues to operate in the “we know best” mode. Business schools are facing environmental dynamics that will eventually make change inevitable. PhD programmes are not producing enough graduates to fulfil the hiring needs of a rapidly growing sector. Market entry by non-research for-profit providers will produce additional challenges to a system where business schools are using a large part of their resources to support a seemingly zero-return activity. There are effectively two pieces to the puzzle.

Researchers argue that they are, above all, writers seeking recognition from their peers. In contrast, communication experts claim that business schools need to improve on their customer orientation. They should produce research that meets the real needs of their stakeholders in terms of content and packaging.

Building a bridge between these two positions is not impossible. Business schools are currently operating based on model where researchers are drifting like particles in institutional space, where they have complete freedom to interact with other particles within or across institutional boundaries and where they eventually release output that is measured by a centuries-old metric.

But why not define academic research as a starting point of an innovation chain? It would allow researchers to focus on what they know best, the production of peer-reviewed articles. It would also, however, introduce the research outcomes into a refinement process that leads to spin-off outputs such as case studies, podcasts,  business simulations, policy position papers, open source e-learning content and interactive communication with corporate partners.

Embedding researchers into vertical innovation chains might also foster mutual learning with practitioners, which will affect the direction of research \and thereby address the main criticism of the corporate world.

In sum, business schools should reflect on how to organise their research activities better in order to justify the significant resource commitments. Laissez faire, with some moderation using a system of external, peer-based controls, has so far not enabled them to pass the double hurdle test. Existing research capabilities could possibly be made better us of by reversing the atomisation of research production and by creating support structures for top researchers.

Proceeding on this line must and should not infringe on the academic freedom of the individual researcher as since this would probably lead to harmful feedback effects in terms of research quality and productivity. However, business schools should attempt to break open their research silos and let the wider community that surrounds them participate in the benefits of their knowledge-generation activities.

Ulrich Hommel, Director of Research & Surveys at EFMD