Faculty

Chinese B-Schools Lift their Game

 

As the schools' reputations improve, more local students are choosing to study at home rather than earn degrees abroad

by Dexter Roberts

 

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Foreign case studies haven't been thrown out altogether, but the new emphasis on Chinese business reflects the changing priorities of China's business schools. As the curricula become more relevant to Chinese students, the schools' reputations are improving, and more local students are choosing to stay home rather than earn degrees abroad. In an exclusive poll of 253 recruiters from such companies as Huawei, General Electric (GE), and Nokia (NOK), 34% of respondents called the supply of high-quality talent from China's MBA programs "excellent" or "good," up from 19% last year, according to BusinessWeek China's third annual survey of Chinese B-schools. The quality of MBAs "is becoming better and better," says Mike Wang, human resources manager at Morgan Stanley (MS) in Beijing.

This year, companies are hiring more business-school graduates and paying them higher salaries than ever before. Recruiters offered jobs to an average of nearly five MBAs in 2007, up from fewer than four in 2006, according to the survey. Some 29% of respondents paid their first-year MBA hires $1,000 or more a month, up from 24% last year, and more than 7% said they paid graduates of top schools more than $2,700 a month, up from 3%. In the survey, conducted for BusinessWeek China by employer branding consultant Universum Communications, respondents ranked the "best overall" MBA program and the best in teaching marketing, analytical, financial, and operational skills. "There is a significant improvement in the perception of Chinese MBA students," says Henrik Schmidt, vice-president of Asia-Pacific for Universum.

A Handful of Schools Win High Praise

Business education in China has come a long way. The first MBA programs at nine Chinese universities started accepting students only 16 years ago. Today, 96 universities offer more than 230 MBA and executive MBA programs. Tuition costs as much as $32,000 for a one-year program, more than any other degree in China. As the country's red-hot economy sparks the growth of both local and foreign businesses, demand for MBAs is high. Next year the government plans to increase MBA enrollment by 24% and accredit an additional 30 or so universities.

In the BusinessWeek China survey, corporate recruiters singled out a handful of schools for their highest praise. China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), a venture of the Shanghai municipal government and the European Union, was named the top program by 38% of recruiters. Beijing International MBA (BiMBA) at Peking University, run jointly with a consortium of U.S. colleges, was a close second, with 31% ranking it No. 1. Some 9% of respondents said the top program was Tsinghua University's School of Economics & Management (SEM), a venture with Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management.

These schools are attracting top students who not long ago might instead have headed overseas for an MBA degree. With the economy so strong now, many students worry that spending time outside China may hurt rather than enhance their job prospects.

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In the meantime the use of Chinese case studies is on the rise. At the top MBA programs students are analyzing the operations of Lenovo, Haier, China Mengniu Dairy, and other mainland enterprises. In a course on competition strategy at BiMBA, readings include Sun Tsu's The Art of War and cases on military battles drawn from ancient and modern Chinese history. "We are integrating Chinese philosophy and realities with Western management theories," says BiMBA's U.S. dean John Yang.

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Excerpts from http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/dec2007/gb2007124_796770.htm?chan=bschools_bschool+index+page_top+stories