Management training needs a big revival


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During the fourth week of July, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of De La Salle University’s Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business online. This celebration struck me as a bit surreal; after all, the pandemic is still here. A year and a half of online education, faculty, students and administrators have faced unstable internet connections, tackling coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and protecting our well-being . However, there are still reasons to keep faith and hope. Unstable internet connections shouldn’t stop our drive for authentic learning and community building.

With this premise, I realize that an effective response to the pandemic should be more than a “restart”, instead, the pandemic can be an opportunity for a “great revival”. In business and management education this means: defining social and ecological outcomes as the primary goals of businesses; frame education as a platform for learning and facilitating relationships; and rethink the pedagogy of higher education.

From the reflections of my students and our dialogues, it’s refreshing to see how they began to conceive of businesses not as mere profit generators, but rather as platforms to pursue social and ecological outcomes. The pandemic illustrated how businesses can be essential mechanisms for delivering essential material goods and other forms of integral human development. It’s inspiring to hear students ask better questions. From the question “how can we maximize profits and how can we be more efficient and productive?” “, Their questions became:” How can companies retain their employees despite community quarantines? How can we not only learn, but rather authentically apply business principles to engage stakeholders from businesses, nonprofits, student organizations, and faith-based organizations? I feel energized and challenged. I admit that I don’t have the answers (come to think of it, who really knows the right answers in today’s context?). The adoption of action-learning and action-research approaches has enabled us to approach these real-world problems in a collaborative manner.

The online learning environment highlighted the need for what we perhaps took for granted: human relationships and social interactions in classrooms and at university. My students have claimed to use synchronous class sessions as opportunities not for lectures but to bond with their peers. My point of view is that being an educator not only facilitates knowledge; rather, an educator is also an architect of meta-learning and relationship building in the virtual classroom. This means that educators should be able to challenge students to learn and understand, but in groups. In my experience, virtual breakout sessions and focus groups have helped facilitate both critical research and community building in my classrooms.

So, we should rethink the way we do both management pedagogy and authentic assessments. Inspired by the article by Bruno Dyck and Nathan Greidanus in 2016, where they advocated the theory of sustainable quantum organization, business is inevitably linked to society. The principle of indeterminism means that we can never fully predict the forces at play in our macroenvironment. So, can we really control success and failure? As educators, who are we to base our grades on whether student change projects are achieving desired results when we cannot control all the forces at play? Perhaps the challenge is to adopt some kind of pedagogy and evaluation that favors the path of experimentation and reflection rather than mere results. Management education should not encourage playing results for grades; we need to facilitate flow, meaning making, creativity, meta-learning, insight and frequent feedback. We should be more forgiving of failure due to daring to innovate. We must refrain from exaggerating the positive results which may be due to luck rather than genuine learning. Scoring these skills can be more complex than standardized exams. But the new normal doesn’t care about people who get perfect scores on multiple-choice tests; the new standard rewards courage, resilience and the ability to perform meta-learning.

Perhaps this maxim was correct: it is the journey, not the destination. A higher power can only be the one who fully controls whether we can achieve the desired results. A great renewal of management education should focus not on the foolish pursuit of the destination, but on how to undertake that journey – prioritizing social and ecological goals, facilitating the meta- learning and relationships, and rethinking pedagogy and assessments. In short, a renewal of management education means renewing our humanity; putting authenticity, sustainability and integral human development into business.

Patrick Adriel H. Aure (Patch) is Vice-President and Assistant Professor in the Department of Management and Organization at Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. He advocates humanistic management and social entrepreneurship as head of the Research Network on Social Enterprises of the Center for Research and Development of Enterprises and member of the committee of the Lasallian Social Enterprise for Economic Development of the University of The room. [email protected]

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Norma A. Roth