Interview with CEEMAN IQA director, dr. Alenka Braček Lalić.
What is the purpose of CEEMAN's International Quality Accreditation?
Alenka Braček Lalić: What is the “Why?” of CEEMAN International Quality Accreditation? I perceive it as a great initiative through which we promote a new model of management education. It is a model where management education institutions monitor the needs and challenges of their stakeholders and are responsive to these needs by providing relevant educational offerings, research, and extracurricular activities in order to make a difference in society.
There are three main missions of higher education: creation of knowledge (research), transferring of knowledge (education), and service to society. Through the years, higher education institutions have started to focus more on research activities and neglected the quality of educational offerings. Service to society was not even a part of the offer or taken into consideration while designing study programs. One of the reasons for this is the fact that accreditation systems have predominantly taken into consideration the research activities of an institution, instead of focusing on the impact and change that it achieves through its students and graduates. A management education institution can make an impact predominantly by focusing on the second and on the third mission of higher education (service to society and transferring of knowledge).
Due to numerous business, socio-economic, political, and environmental challenges, we at CEEMAN believe that is high time for management education institutions to recognize that they have an important role in developing managers and leaders who will be able to lead necessary changes in the business sector and in society, and make a desperately needed difference. The world has been changing, so management education institutions have to change too. However, we observe that nowadays management education institutions are not fully responsive to the needs and challenges of their stakeholders also due to requirements set by national and international accreditation systems. Besides, the philosophy of several accreditation systems does not include flexible and innovative approaches as well. My belief is that accreditation systems also have to change their approaches and adjust themselves according to the challenges of society in order to help all stakeholders of management education.
At CEEMAN, we have started a serious campaign to revive the third mission of higher education (service to society) and strengthen the second one (transferring of knowledge) so that management education institutions become more responsive to the challenges of their stakeholders and are change agents in their environments. The CEEMAN International Quality Accreditation is one of the approaches through which we promote and encourage a new model of management education. Last year we significantly revised its accreditation framework, which is now focused on excellence and relevance. The International Management Teachers Academy provided by CEEMAN is the second one.
In comparison to other accreditation systems in the field of management education, we at CEEMAN believe that quality should not be defined by accreditation systems only, which predominantly follow the “one- size-fits-all” approach, but rather by all stakeholders of a management education institution. Therefore, throughout the CEEMAN International Quality Accreditation procedure we take into consideration the respective environments where a management education institution operates, and pay attention to the challenges and needs of all stakeholders. We also seek a demonstration that a management education institution collaborates closely with all stakeholders, monitors their needs, and is responsive to these needs by providing relevant educational offerings, research, and extracurricular activities. Throughout the CEEMAN International Quality Accreditation procedure, we always have in mind the following two questions: What it the “Why” (purpose) of management education, and who should define the quality of management education? Furthermore, we are aware that each country, each region has its specific challenges and management education institutions have to address these challenges in order to help a country, a region to develop further. This awareness is reflected in the CEEMAN International Quality Accreditation procedure.
Why is relevance of fundamental importance for management education?
Alenka Braček Lalić: Relevance is of fundamental importance not only for management education. My belief is that it should be the main principle of all management education institutions. The phrase “management education” clearly indicates that this education is for managers and leaders. The University has always been perceived as an ivory tower, not responsive enough to the needs of its stakeholders. But in comparison to any other study discipline, management is totally different.. Management education institutions are expected to have close cooperation with the corporate world, to be more focused on developing new managers and leaders than on investing too much effort in publications that are not necessarily relevant to the needs of their stakeholders. Creation of knowledge is definitely very important pillar of management education in order to develop new concepts, but management education institutions should besides being focused on basic research pay attention also to applied research that would be relevant to the needs and challenges of their stakeholders.
Management educations institutions have a noble mission of developing future managers and leaders who will have a strong influence on the quality of the business sector and eventually on the quality of our society. Therefore, management education institutions have to develop future managers and leaders who will be equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to tackle the challenges faced by the business sector and by society in order to lead the changes that are nowadays desperately needed at different levels.
What is your standpoint about rankings? Which indicators would you add? Is social impact (service to society) for example represented well enough?
We are blindly looking at different rankings without investing effort and time in understanding the methodology used in these rankings. I am always astonished by the fact that stakeholders are not more critical regarding these methodologies. I am definitely very critical. Why?
When we look at these methodologies, we need to ask ourselves what the impact of a management education institution should be or what mission it has. Again, we could summarize that the quality of management education should be linked to three main fundamental pillars: knowledge transfer, knowledge creation, and service to society. Currently, the most prominent rankings, such as ARWU and THE measure he quality of teaching by “alumni of an institution winning Nobel prizes in economics” (ARWU) or by indicators such as reputation survey, staff-student ratio, doctorates-to-Bachelors-degrees ratio, doctorates-awarded-to-academic-staff ratio, and institutional income (THE). These indicators represent only a proxy measurement of teaching quality, because they do not evaluate whether higher education institutions prepare students for society and contribute to their professional and personal development. Both rankings measure quality of research using different but similar indicators. They measure research productivity and citations. Still, not one of the chosen rankings concentrates on the impact of higher education institutions and their contribution to local and wider business and social environments, and whether higher education institutions performance and education offerings are really relevant to business and social development needs. Furthermore, if we concentrate on FT and QS rankings, we can conclude that FT evaluates quality only in terms of salary growth (MBA, EMBA) and the percentage of the most recent graduating class that was in employment three months after graduation (important only for schools that can provide employment data). QS takes into account only survey results among employers and academics. Neither FT nor QS measures quality of teaching, quality of research, or what an impact an individual higher education institution has on local and wider society. For all who are interested in this topic, I highly recommend the article titled "How Quality of Higher Education Should Be Measured by University Rankings", prepared by me and published on the CEEMAN website.
At CEEMAN, we have already started discussing how to raise awareness among all stakeholders of management education and strive to suggest some indicators that would be more in line with the main missions of management education institutions and the needs of all stakeholders and society. We are currently in the process of developing these kinds of indicators. I believe that social impact is not represented at all in the existing rankings. One of the reasons is that it is difficult to measure impact. My personal belief is that we can find appropriate measures if we know what we would like to measure. We also need to take into consideration what Einstein once said: “Not everything that counts can be counted”.