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Modern MBA: Standard, but by no means simple

Despite recent criticism questioning its relevance in today’s employment market, the importance of an MBA qualification should not be dismissed, according to Bond University Bond Business School Dean Professor Mark Hirst.

Professor Hirst said the growing popularity of the MBA qualification had not weakened its purpose: to develop the essential skills and values that underpin successful leadership and senior management activity.

“Essentially, it gives an individual an understanding of the sensitivities of setting direction for a business as well as creating the right environment – including the appropriate resources, structures, systems and activities – for success,” said Professor Hirst.

“MBAs across the nation generally focus on teaching a similar set of standard skills, but these skills are by no means simple. They are complex and involving individual judgement. They are skills that need to be learned,” he said.

Professor Hirst said an important feature of a quality MBA, or the more intensive EMBA (Executive MBA), is the degree to which it can be integrated into the work setting.
“Facilitating the application of studies to the workplace is an integral part of the program that creates relevance of material.

“It’s known as work integrated learning, and a lot of business schools claim they do this. We do it at Bond, and we do it well. Operating at a relatively smaller scale allows us to do this routinely and with great success.”

He added that central to contemporary MBA studies are the issues of globalisation, corporate social responsibility and business ethics.

“These are far from new concepts, particularly in the context of the MBA; but they are the subject of renewed emphasis and focus globally,” said Professor Hirst.

“Nowadays, it’s very difficult to find a business that doesn’t have an international dimension, whether it is the manufacturer, supplier, customer or financier – somewhere along the value chain, that business will most likely cross borders.

“Clearly, as businesses move offshore and regulatory bodies around the world continue to focus on sustainable business practices, it is imperative that, as educators, we are creating business leaders who are cross-culturally aware and value social responsibility, sustainability and ethical business practices as an integral part of the way they do business.

“The emerging generation of managers are already quite environmentally and socially aware in their personal lives, so it is a matter of connecting these values at a professional level so that they can be applied to business.

“In many large organisations around the world today, there are elements of these skills and values - often one or two organisational champions – but they are not applied across the entire business.

“Reinforcing these principles so that they become part of the fabric of the business itself – that is the challenge,” said Professor Hirst.

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