Last November I asked: Can business education improve health systems?
I answered in the affirmative. High-quality management schools, such as members of GBSN, are equipped to foster innovation, especially in raising the capacity of systems to absorb advances in technology. They are able to generate drivers of change and to promote strategic thinking and planning. Business schools emphasize teamwork, critical thinking, and student-centered approaches to learning. They enjoy flexibility in adapting curricula to “real world problems," notably through the use of tailor-made local teaching cases. They embrace multi-disciplinary approaches, and their emphasis is on praxis rather than theory.
As you know, I keep deploring the paucity of empirical evidence about the impact of management education on development. Luckily, three striking examples of what good business education can do in a developing country have recently come to my attention. They are drawn from Kenya’s Strathmore Business School’s Leading High-Performing Healthcare Organizations program, which was launched with USAID support in September 2011, in partnership with Management Sciences for Health.
1. Mastering Automation: Information technology success at The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB). The managerial project aimed at automating registries and an online system for issuing licenses, creating electronic systems that would regulate clinical trials, including a mobile app. Three of the top managers took the Strathmore program, so raising the level of training above the IT teams themselves. The outcomes included increased accountability to the public, first-time publication of a list of establishments authorized to stock and sell drugs, identifying pharmacists who are practicing without licenses. All these activities would be completed in minutes as compared to times past when months were the norm.
2. Kenya Health Agenda Forum: The program offered the ability for leaders of various ‘silo organizations’ – regulators, policy makers, practitioners and private sector health care participants – to meet colleagues in a setting where they could exchange ideas freely and build relationships that would support joint achievement of mandates.
3. Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA): Improving warehousing. Through a series of meetings, the management team was able to build an environment where criticism was not accusatory but simply a method for identifying areas of improvement. Next, management decided that supervisors would move from their office stations and spend more time on the floor. Lastly, they decided to focus on continuous improvement as a method for improving delivery time. In the year after completing the leadership program, turnaround time had been reduced from two weeks to less than two days.
To me, such examples epitomize GBSN’s raison d’être. I hope there will be many more.
Guy Pfeffermann is the Founder & CEO of the Global Business School Network.