2017 EFMD GN Asia Annual Conference: Concluding Remarks

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Guest Post by Peter Little, Chair of the Conference
Bali, Indonesia - 27 October 2017

Throughout the conference six themes emerged, namely: technology, data analytics, internationalisation, impact, accreditation, and leadership. 


First, technology in one form or another underpinned each session. We saw how Microsoft is now reaching into quantum computing with staggering power to process information - this technology trend offers positive opportunities for business schools to create operational efficiencies, increase our knowledge of our students' learning journeys and enrich the student experience.

Professor den Hollander, AO, Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University, showed us how she has used technology, including Artificial Intelligence, to completely re-conceptualize her university. She provided a deep insight into how universities and business schools may well look in the future. And let us not forget that Deakin University has achieved the highest student satisfaction rating in Victoria for five years in a row. The students, digital natives, clearly enjoy the rich experience provided by her digital strategy. 

We also saw how the Open University Business School has successfully built a global business using online learning. Technology is central to Open University's business model, student experience and learning outcomes. Similarly, Pertamina’s corporate university is largely founded on E-learning and, as Dr Karantina Marhaeni demonstrated, it enables the company to provide modular learning to all level of employees in far-flung locations with positive outcomes for learning and workplace performance.

Lawrence Smith took us to the edge of technology enabled learning: micro modular learning – the ultimate in just in time, just enough and just for me learning. This is learning for busy professionals, even refreshing their knowledge on their way to meetings. It also offers a methodology for large companies wanting to provide continuing professional education for employees whose skills and knowledge needs are constantly evolving. All with powerful outcomes. Micro learning also offers a massively growing market for continuing professional education. An important related issue as outlined by Professor Rajendra Srivastava, Dean of the Indian School of Business, is the need to help students "learn to learn". Should this be a graduate outcome, setting students up for life-long learning especially through the use of technology?

Data analytics

Data analytics was also a recurring theme. Clearly, technology enables us to capture in a timely way, data about our markets; our students – their performance, their experience, their sentiments about the business school and university. Data analytics, as we saw, enables us to measure learning outcomes (helpful for accreditation purposes); and we were shown how analytics enable us to better understand academic performance and to view research performance in new ways.

Dr. Alison Lloyd, Director, Institutional Research and Planning, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, demonstrated the extensive data analytics programme of her University which underpins its drive for academic and operational excellence. Likewise, Jason Lawrence, Market Development Director, East Asia, GMAC highlighted the critical importance of data gathering and its analysis as the keys to helping MBA students and MBA programmes to find each other in a congested international market place.


Internationalisation was another recurring theme emphasising that internationalisation is an indispensable aspect of business school success today. We saw that internationalisation of management education is part of the public policy of ASEAN and an important strategy for Indonesia as demonstrated by the work of Indonesia's NUFFIC and Share - amongst others facilitating international student exchange.

Internationalisation is also central to the Open University business school business model, to GMAC and, importantly, to the accreditation programmes offered by EFMD. EQUIS accreditation, in particular, upholds internationalisation as a core principle and aspiration.

Technology and data analytics, as we also saw many times throughout the conference, aid the internationalisation process. They also assist with generating impact and identity in the international market place.

We also considered the question whether internationalisation is simple. In answer to this question the discussion showed that internationalisation may be simple or extremely complex depending upon a School's level of aspiration. Thus, we saw it is relatively easy for us all to reach out to others for collaboration, exchange and research if we have the mind and will to do so and to continue to do so. On the other hand, building global programmes is a more complex long-term, and resource intensive journey. Nevertheless, it was clear from our discussions that in order to properly serve our students, our faculty and the business world we should be taking the international journey – it is and will be part of our continuing journey of success as business schools.


We were fortunate to hear an excellent presentation from Dr. Yuan Ding, Dean, CEIBS, China on how his Business School was created to generate impact on management education in China but now has a global impact. He emphasized how important it is for leaders to think specifically about impact and how they can create it and measure it in the School’s various activities - a new measure of leader performance? Also, he emphasized the value of rewarding faculty who create impact for business managers, leaders, and industry.

Both Dr. Yuan Ding and Professor Srivastava referred to their aspiration to close the gap between theory and practice as a mounting challenge but one which is designed to create impact upon and relevance to the corporate community.


While this conference was not focused upon accreditation, it was still a recurring theme. Firstly, speakers referred to it as a framework for Business School leaders helping to raise their schools to best practice international standards; helping with quality; continuous improvement; and internationalisation.

We also heard how the BSIS process helped CEIBS to measure its impact. We saw accreditation helping corporate programmes, online programmes, entire Business Schools to drive success. EQUIS, EPAS, CLIP, EOCCS, and BSIS were all mentioned.


Not surprisingly, leadership emerged as the key to us achieving success in a highly competitive, constantly changing global world of business. Disruption, we heard, is an ever present threat and opportunity. Whether we can harness the opportunities which our speakers identified from their own journeys will depend upon the minds of business school leaders.

As Dean Williams, Faculty Chair, Global Change Agent Programme, Kennedy School, Harvard University, said, we need leaders who can bring the human dimension to the technological age. They will be adaptive, boundary-spanning leaders - mobilizing people to face reality. And, please don't forget the emerging reality which Professor den Hollander shared with us - the digitised university. It is here - a new reality!

Thus, the context and environment for business schools has changed and is changing - it is no longer like it was in 1997 or 2007. This poses serious questions for us as leaders. As Professor Srivastava so aptly stated: we should as leaders dream the future - imagine outcomes - and be learning from the future.

To go further - Some points for reflection

  • How do you rate your digital journey?
  • How do you rate your data analytics capacity?
  • Are you investing sufficiently in cutting edge technology which will enrich the student experience and running of your School?
  • Are you active in TEL/online learning?
  • Have you considered micro/modular learning?
  • Do you see your School as being on a journey of transition or transformation using imagination, creativity, and wisdom?
  • Are you measuring impact – what is the true impact of your Business School?
  • What are the new dimensions of internationalisation open to you – how deeply is internationalisation embedded in the psyche and leadership of your School – what can you leverage to be distinctively international?
  • What is on your leadership agenda for technology?
  • What is your leadership narrative? What positive messages do you communicate to your students, your faculty, your corporate customers about the future success of your Business School?
  • Does your narrative project any urgency about adapting to the future – not just clinging to and projecting history and the status quo? Remember, narrative matters
Have a look a the photo album of the conference here