The Yale School of Management has swapped finance and marketing classes, among others, for multidisciplinary classes in an effort to enrich its MBA curriculum.
This change reflects a difference in the day-to-day managerial operations — the curriculum is now more relevant and up to date, said Joel M. Podolny, dean of the Yale School of Management. He also said this change has been a long time coming.
“The management profession has experienced profound change in the past few decades, but management education has not,” Podolny said. “Most business school curricula are based on a model that made sense in the past, but today, a successful manager must be able to identify and frame business problems and move across a variety of organizational, political and geographic boundaries to solve those problems. Our new curriculum teaches the integrated skills contemporary managers need.”
The new first-year curriculum is taught in three segments: orientation to management, organizational perspectives and the integrated leadership perspective. The core of this curriculum is eight multidisciplinary classes, which constitute a series called organizational perspectives. They are designed in regard to the organizational roles a manager must engage, motivate and lead in to solve problems or make progress within an organization.
The roles are internal (the innovator, the operations engine, the employee and the chief financial officer) and external (the investor, the customer, the competitor, the state and society). Professor Sharon Oster, one of many senior faculty members who helped design the new curriculum, also spearheaded the development of the competitor course.
“No executive wakes up in the morning and thinks, ‘I’m going to do finance today,’ so it doesn’t make sense for students to sit in a finance class and learn to crunch numbers absent of any context,” she said. “We are teaching them in a way that’s relevant in the real world.”
In addition to formal classes, students will take part in a mandatory formal mentorship program that will help students with academics, interpersonal skills and career aspirations. About a dozen MBA students will be in each group, which will be supported by a faculty member, a staff member and a second-year student.
Further, the new curriculum requires students to study abroad, which is a first for a major business school. Between the first and second semesters in January, students will embark on a two-week excursion, during which they’ll be immersed in a new environment, engage in intensive study, meet with business and government leaders and complete a trip project. Destinations for this year’s trips, which are required and faculty-led, include Argentina, China, Costa Rica, India, Japan and Singapore.
Podolny said he is proud to be a part of this innovative change in business education. “From my conversations with business school deans and corporate executives, there is a broad consensus that the traditional MB curriculum is disconnected from the management profession – over the next few years, many schools will be pursuing their own reforms,” he said. “I am honored to be part of a community that has shown the resolve to take the lead in responding to that disconnect by imagining a wholly new model of what management education can and should be.”
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