With the stories of many famous business leaders beginning through innovations of new or current processes and technology, schools understand the importance of developing the ability to form innovative ideas and implementing them in the future business world.
Many faculty members at top business schools see the practical application of their teaching and research, particularly by the graduates who pass through their MBA programs, as their contribution towards the development of long-term business methods and procedures. Schools try to offer their support in creating a working environment to best foster management innovation in their students.
Sherring Ng, head of marketing and admissions of HKUST Business School’s MBA programs stresses the importance of innovation in order to foster sustainable growth in business: “Innovation helps to improve productivity, add value to the existing services or product or improve efficiency of business operations. Employers value innovation because employees with this competence are likely to help the companies to create new products, processes, or services which will meet the ever-changing demand in the market and sustain business growth.”
Ng continues, explaining what innovation at MBA level involves: “A specialization in innovation entails creativity, imagination and open-mindedness to new ideas. To facilitate a specialization in innovation, a business school has to be supportive to new ideas; it should build up a positive atmosphere that encourages people to express their own opinion and to take risk. Communication channels and occasions that allow collections of new ideas and experimentation will facilitate the innovation process.”
When considering MBA programs that will help encourage innovation in management, there are a number of factors to consider.
One important consideration is the opportunity to interact with class mates to help build perspectives and shape business ideas, and consequently importance is placed on diversity figures of the current MBA class. If the levels of interaction between MBA students is high, then it makes sense that the more diverse the class, then the more opportunity there is to learn from students with different working and cultural backgrounds or perspectives.
Further linked to this concept of creating an innovative working environment is the way in which the class is taught. A program that offers a large amount of group work and opportunities to work on case studies may find that innovation is more prevalent. Schools that teach with a case study method, such as Harvard Business School, Richard Ivey School of Business, The Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and IESE Business School, offer their MBA students the chance to interact with classmates on real business cases, often inviting business leaders to facilitate the learning process.
In North America, MIT: Sloan, Stanford GSB, Harvard, and Wharton return the highest number of employer votes. They are closely followed by Kellogg School of Management and NYU Stern who also make the top ten. Each of these schools hold established records at developing high-profile innovative business leaders across industries, often achieved through differing methods.
Harvard’s case study method allows students to assess and analyze real life scenarios, before engaging in class discussion. Proving the institution’s commitment to innovation, The Wharton School appointed Karl Ulrich to the new role of vice dean for innovation in 2010. His responsibilities include identifying and developing the most high-potential projects that emerge from the school.
In Europe, INSEAD, London Business School (LBS) and IE Business School return the highest number of votes. LBS created a Management Innovation Lab following research into sources of competitive advantage, and works with companies to experiment and innovate around their management practices.
In Asia, Indian business schools are again showing their rapid development, with the two Indian Institute of Managements in Ahmedabad and Bangalore entering the top 15. The Indian School of Business and the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta also show good progress in the eyes of employers seeking MBA graduates versed in innovation.
Other business schools that have gained significantly in employer opinion for innovation include: