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
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.
This response was also published on FT.com
Guy Pfeffermann is the founder and CEO of the Global Business School Network.