Innovation Dominates MBAs
Published: September 26, 2012 (Issue # 1728)
The interior of Cambridge Judge Business School reflects its focus on innovation.
In an economy in which businesses have to keep moving in order not to sink below the surface, innovation is the new buzzword in business education programs.
The number and variety of courses offering to teach students how to be innovative in business is increasing rapidly, with such programs being incorporated into the courses offered by traditional universities and business schools with well-established names around the world.
Traditional European and American business schools are keeping pace with the trend by opening innovative divisions in countries such as Singapore, China and India: Asian business schools are becoming more and more popular among students due to the rapid economic growth and development of markets operating in innovative spheres in the region.
Interestingly, innovators are in high demand not only among tech companies and creative industries, but also among traditional financial institutions and government organizations, as new approaches to business, development and commercial ideas are essential for any business nowadays.
“Programs in business innovation are very popular now,” said Anastasia Romanenko, chief marketing officer at Insight Lingua, a company specializing in education abroad. “Business is a very changeable sphere, and education should always be adjusted to new realities.”
Key skills that can be learned by enrolling on innovative programs include how to better manage ideas and knowledge, make strategic decisions and adjust to changeable business realities.
“The majority of programs in innovation are offered at postgraduate level, but there are a lot of short courses designed for acquiring specific qualities and skills or developing a creative mind,” Romanenko said.
Stanford Graduate School of Business, which heads the 2012 Financial Times Global MBA Ranking, offers an academic program titled “Powering Innovation Entrepreneurship” that “provides exposure to both the fundamentals of business and the practical aspects of identifying, evaluating, and moving business ideas forward.” Program participants can choose their campus — either Stanford, Singapore or Beijing.
“Stanford Ignite (an academic program for those developing and commercializing ideas) gives graduate students and graduates in non-business fields the management knowledge and skills they need to become leaders in established and start-up organizations,” says Dean Garth Saloner on the school’s website.
Another interesting program offered by Stanford is a joint online course from the Stanford Center for Professional Development at the School of Engineering and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. According to the university website, the program is “designed to engage and inspire, be prepared to get out of your chair and use your whole brain, because creativity and innovation take practice.” The course offers subjects varying from “Leading Innovation” to “Diffusion of Innovations in Social Networks.” Depending on the subject and availability of time, students can complete the certificate in one or two years.
Another approach to business innovation is offered by Cambridge Judge Business School with its MPhil in Innovation, Strategy and Organization program, which aims to extend students’ knowledge of social science methodologies and offer them the interdisciplinary study of organizations.
“I regard the MPhil in Innovation, Strategy & Organization as an invaluable first step in my research career,” Raina Brands, who completed the MPhil degree at Cambridge Judge Business School, is quoted on the school website as saying.
“The ISO program provided me with a rigorous grounding in a range of disciplines, which really assisted the transition from my first degree in psychology to the multidisciplinary management environment of Cambridge Judge Business School. The faculty places a strong emphasis on rigor and imagination, and my work became far more creative as a result.”
One of the most creative programs is offered at City University Cass School in London with its MSc degree in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership, which is aimed at people working in creative industries. The program is focused on developing “practical skills that will enable a student to lead change in an organization and deliver innovation.”
The course includes disciplines in creative writing, psychology, creative design and innovation in different performance arts, as well as technology and math courses delivered by the Center for Human Computer Interaction Design.
“In Russia, people still don’t know much about innovative programs for creative industries, but specialists with innovative skills are in high demand in this sphere,” Romanenko said.
Other opportunities for studying innovation in creative business management include the MA in Innovation Management at University of the Arts London and the MSc in Management of Innovation at Goldsmiths. According to Romanenko, London is the most suitable place for creative development in business due to the vast number of companies there working in creative industries.
Technology-based innovation can be learned at INSEAD Business School, which has campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, and Sloan Business School at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The “Technology and Operations Management” and “Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management” programs at these universities both offer PhD degrees, while the London School of Economics offers an MSc in Management, Information Systems and Innovation.
Innovative programs can also be found in Russia. This year St. Petersburg State University launched its MA in Information Technology and Innovation Management, which is fully taught in English and includes a compulsive semester in business schools in Europe or the U.S. The program is designed for people with a good knowledge of IT and math, and it is envisaged that after graduation students will begin a career in innovation management. The program, whose core subjects are taught by professors from the IT department, also has business cases in its curriculum that are taught by people who currently work in business.
The main goal of the Higher School of Innovative Business department at Moscow State University is to adapt traditional university programs to the new demands of the industry by offering postgraduate, MBA and extended education programs. It focuses on managerial and governmental spheres, but it is also possible to study geological and chemical management.
Short courses can be found at Skolkovo Business School, which runs a two-month program in Innovation Management for big businesses. The program is designed for vice-presidents and directors of innovation, department managers and managers of strategy and development.