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Meeting Africa's Business Education Needs

Posted By Guy Pfeffermann, Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Guy Pfeffermann

In a recent article in the Financial Times, Walter Baets, Director of the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, makes some interesting points about the need for an African business school model.

He sees a new "wave of colonization” as foreign business schools establish beachheads in Sub-Saharan Africa. Most "bring pre—existing European/US models to Africa, as if this will be the answer to all of the continent’s problems”

Baets goes on to say that the assumption behind the approach of these western business schools is that the only way to help Africa to develop is to impose an established business school model on the continent, rather than contributing to the development of local resources. But local development is more sustainable. Money invested in developing local resources will contribute to a country’s long-term sustainability.

As an economist, I have a hard time seeing competition between African and foreign business schools as a "bad thing". After all, consumers of business education are consenting adults, who decide where they are likely to get the best value for their money. Of course, foreign schools should not be viewed as a silver bullet: there is inherent value in home grown institutions.

I entirely agree with Walter Baets that "We can achieve more by working together and respecting multiple perspectives..." African business schools have come a long way in recent years, thanks in part to the work of the Association of African Business Schools (AABS), but Western business schools may not be fully aware of this development, and tend to ignore them

The Global Business School Network, which I founded, creates a framework for business schools from industrial and emerging markets to come together, to exchange ideas and engage in collaborative projects. Network members come together physically at GBSN's annual meetings, and I can testify that African and foreign business schools come out of these meetings with a host of collaborative ideas. GBSN member schools are learning how to become more locally relevant - an absolute necessity, if they want to train leaders and managers who are able to operate in local markets that are hugely different from those in rich countries, as Walter notes so eloquently.

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Guy Pfeffermann is the founder and CEO of the Global Business School Network.

Tags:  Business Education 

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