The Online MBA that Places Disruptive Thinking at its Core |

The Online MBA that Places Disruptive Thinking at its Core

By Karen Turtle

Updated July 24, 2017 Updated July 24, 2017

This article is sponsored by the University of Aberdeen Business School. Learn more about the MBA (Global).

Over the past few decades, the scale and reach of business has vastly expanded through globalization. Developments in digital technology have not only given businesses added versatility, but have also made setting up an enterprise a possibility for more people than ever before, creating and feeding into a dynamic and rapidly-changing international business environment.

‘Challenge, or be challenged’ is the mantra of the day in all industry sectors, higher education included. For top business schools, the maxim is doubly relevant; they must mold leaders who can succeed in this environment, and they must themselves stay relevant in order to compete. 

The MBA program must therefore evolve continuously to keep pace with, or even remain ahead of the changing demands of global industry. “A lot of traditional MBAs reinforce the old way of doing business, but there aren't enough MBAs that recognize that the ways of doing business have changed," says Dr Ian Heywood, MBA program director at the University of Aberdeen Business School.

This year the business school launches its MBA (Global), an online MBA designed to disrupt the status quo. "The higher education sector is holding onto its traditional values of how it delivers education; students must come onto campus in many cases, they must sign up to courses for two years, they must pay high fees, so one of the things that we're exploring is how we can actually liberate the learning process within a university setting, and part of that is by making programs more open through technology. " says Heywood. The MBA (Global) can be studied entirely online, on a flexible basis, and has the comparatively moderate price tag of US$22,518.

The futurist's toolkit: University of Aberdeen Business School prepares students to thrive in a dynamic business world.

'Strategy and Practice in a Dynamic World,' 'Future Thinking,' and 'Scoping, Planning and Motivating' – the names convey the focus of the University Aberdeen Business School’s curriculum.

The MBA (Global) incorporates disruptive thinking as a core component of its curriculum. "Disruptive thinkers change things from the way they've always been, to move them to a very different place in terms of what happens next, in other words, they challenge existing business practices," Heywood explains. The idea also, is that a company innovates faster than their customers' needs evolve.

Former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs would be the perfect example of a disruptive leader. Exiled from Apple, he returned years later to upend the company, ridding it of many of its product lines, laying off staff to hire 'true believers', and saving the business from bankruptcy by engaging in market research that enabled Apple to offer products customers weren't even aware they wanted: the iPad and iPod being two prime examples.

The MBA (Global)’s mission is to teach disruptive theory and disruptive thinking though real-life case studies, but also aims to give students the opportunity to develop these skills in practice. This comes in the form of online business simulations, where students are asked to plan and execute a strategy with limited resources.

The cumulative intention is to create leaders that are adaptable, flexible, responsive, and resilient, but also balanced in their business approach. These are traits that can help managers to successfully run organizations that are able to respond to change in the internal and external environment, without losing either momentum or vision.

The University of Aberdeen Business School calls it 'the futurist's toolkit', unpacking the skillset graduating MBAs need to competently lead within an environment of constant change and disruption.

The MBA (Global): Embracing technology to keep pace with the digital revolution.

Digital technologies are transforming the world's markets and business practices. This means that leaders today require a very different set of competencies to managers of the past. One related advantage of doing a qualification such as the MBA (Global), which utilizes an innovative online platform, is gaining digital experience. Business simulations have been mentioned already, but other industry-standard technologies are employed as well, video conferencing being one of the more familiar examples.

Teaching students to be digitally competent is, indeed, one of the main objectives of the MBA (Global). MBA candidates are taught the theory on the technologies and processes involved when working in a global business environment, but they are also encouraged to put what they have learned into practice. The University of Aberdeen Business School calls this 'whitewater' learning – applying theory as you learn, not afterwards. Most students of the MBA (Global) work while they study, meaning that much of what is learned in the minimum of 15 hours of study they set aside per week, can be applied to their organization with immediate effect. This could involve analyzing financial statements for example, or linking finance to strategy and operations.

Finally, as the name of the program indicates, the MBA at the University of Aberdeen Business School has a global outlook. Students on the program  come from many countries across the globe, and while they might be thousands of miles apart, they still work together on team projects, reflecting the transnational nature of business today. This is not to say that students studying in the same cohort will never meet – events for MBA (Global) students are organized on-campus, or locally in other parts of the world. You just need to RSVP!

This article is sponsored by the University of Aberdeen Business School. 

This article was originally published in July 2017 .

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Written by

A content writer with a background in higher education, Karen holds an MA in modern languages from the University of St Andrews. Her interests include languages and literature, current affairs and film. ​


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