Out of the ordinary: interesting EMBA electives | TopMBA.com

Out of the ordinary: interesting EMBA electives

By QS Contributor

Updated August 13, 2014 Updated August 13, 2014

An Executive MBA program is typically composed of two types of courses. The first are core courses which make up the basic foundation of the program. These courses are compulsory which all students must attend.

The second type of course is the elective course. Chosen by each individual EMBA student, EMBA electives allow the candidate to focus on a specific aspect of business education or specialise within a particular area of emphasis. In other words, they allow you – the EMBA student – to customise your business school education and it is often these electives that give your EMBA an edge.

Both the number of electives required and those offered differ across business programs worldwide. Some business schools and universities offer a limited but focused selection of electives; others let EMBA students choose from a wide range of courses to meet their Executive MBA degree requirements.

Among the usual array of electives in business education are traditional courses such as strategic management, negotiations, mergers and acquisitions, innovation, entrepreneurship, corporate and international finance or marketing strategy to name a few, but every once in a while an elective course offers a focus beyond the immediate business realm.

1. “Napoleon’s Glance”, Columbia Business School

Leaning on a term from early strategy literature, Columbia Business School’s EMBA elective, ‘Napoleon’s Glance’ provides “key skill for strategy, leadership, and decision-making in business, your career, and your personal life”. Unlike many other courses that are fully focused on the finite and calculable application of practices, this course includes strategic intuition as a tool for decision-making and success.

2. “Managing the City”, Ashridge Business School

This is not a course offer for aspiring majors or politicians, rather it’s about communicating with the outside world in aspects of business that interact directly with external stakeholders and environments, specifically the broader financial community, such as investors, bankers, brokers and analysts. The course offers a better “understanding, appreciation and awareness of the methods, strategies and techniques” that are relevant for connecting with this specific segment of the outside world.

3. “Strategy in the Face of Uncertainty”, Cass Business School

This EMBA elective incorporates a particular contemporary theme: uncertainty and volatility. The course addresses strategies and management techniques that facilitate a better understanding of this growing uncertainty and the strategies required to deal with conditions of precariousness. As the program states: “it is important to create strategies that are flexible and robust in an unpredictable world.” Embracing the unknown is a highly topical issue in a social, economic and business context that is increasingly determined by greater complexity and unpredictability.

4. “Ethics and Leadership”, Kellogg-WHU EMBA program

This EMBA elective covers issues which remain important in any economic and business environment. In light of recent banking and business scandals and the growing divergences in income distributions, the issue of ethics, and how to conduct business ethically, is perhaps more pressing than ever.

5. “Social Media”, INSEAD

Another very topical aspect of contemporary life - and contemporary business – ‘Social Media’ is offered as an EMBA elective at INSEAD. Social media dominates the popular landscape and can’t be dismissed, particularly as its influence in relation to businesses and business practices grow. This elective provides EMBA students with an ideal opportunity to gain an expertise in this area.

6. “Leader as Coach”, Johnson Cornell University

This EMBA elective is a somewhat introspective course that aims to give a personal development dimension to a candidate’s Executive MBA. The course aims to help students identify their own strengths, values and weaknesses in order to develop coaching strategies for employees to improve effectiveness and motivation.

7. “Emotional Intelligent Leadership”, CEIBS

Similarly to the ‘Leader as Coach’ elective course offered by Cornell, CEIBS has taken up the task to approach management and strategy with a psychological dimension. The ability to recognize, evaluate and influence the emotions or oneself and those of others, is a significant tool in business and being able to supplement hard knowledge with this soft skill makes for winning leaders in business.

8. “Power and Politics”, NYU Stern

This elective leans directly on the political world. Structured to allow students to better recognize and diagnose the political aspects of organizational issues and to improve their effectiveness overall, the course “considers the way political processes and power structures influence decision and choices made within and by organizations.”

9. “Designing Better Futures”, Oxford Said Business School

The elective course with perhaps the most ambitious title merges design creativity with business practices. It focuses on design-based approaches to the challenges and demands businesses face in a complex and precarious world. In this, the course collaborates with the prestigious London College of Communications.

10. “Game Theory”

This EMBA elective is offered by a number of business schools, including NYU Stern, WHU Kellogg and CEIBS. The course examines one of the key theories in strategic decision-making – game theory. Game Theory is a concept extensively explored in economic, political and military decision-making and offers an interesting approach to business management. Issues addressed in this elective include rational and irrational behavior, decision matrices, and inefficient or efficient outcomes.

This article was originally published in January 2013 . It was last updated in August 2014

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