The final report identifies opportunities for practical action to increase the impact of British business schools on innovation and growth in the United Kingdom economy. It provides specific guidance for business schools and universities, for faculty and students, and for the government. Together, the Task Force believes that the actions proposed can make a significant difference to the contribution that British business schools make to the economy in which they operate.
There are six areas where the independent Task Force think change is needed:
1.Design practice into courses.
2.Bring more practitioner experience into the faculty.
3.Develop and manage company relationships institutionally.
4.Improve measurement and assessment of research impact.
5.Promote research in larger teams, and centres with multi-dimensional roles.
6.Move to more distinctly defined roles for different institutions.
Professor Thorpe said:
“The six areas of action we recommend in our report are independently valuable but are mutually reinforcing. The main focus for action is by the schools themselves, and by their faculty members. Changes that the government can make to research evaluation and funding, and to support enhanced academic training, will also be important. Finally, businesses have a major opportunity to benefit from closer engagement with an easier-to-access and refocused business and management academic community. As businesses see those benefits, they should be willing to play an increasing role in both delivering business education and supporting research – by providing guidance on key problems, and the access and financial support needed to support practically relevant research.”
Richard Rawlinson said:
“Our overall objective was to outline how British business schools can build on meritorious but isolated examples of success to create a reliable, general system that better directs and supports the considerable resources of the business-school sector towards effective engagement, innovation and impact – while continuing to attract students and command academic esteem.
We see none of our recommendations as contrary to academic goals, or to success in student recruitment. On the contrary, our view is that engaged research can be excellent research, and that schools that engage with business and innovate in pedagogy will better compete for students. We aim to influence and focus the efforts of UK government, business and universities on what they can do to make our business schools more effective across the full range of their missions.”
In their response, the ABS formally welcomed the report, endorsed the main findings and recommendations, and thanked its authors and the members of the Task Force for their significant commitment and contribution.
Professor Angus Laing, Dean of the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University and Chair of the Association of Business Schools said:
“I wholeheartedly welcome this independent report, which provides a robust evidence base to inform both policy in respect of supporting economic growth and practice within the business school community. There is much work for the ABS, our members, government, business, funders and other stakeholder bodies to do to respond to deliver the culture change recommended.”
“Reigniting growth in the aftermath of the global financial crisis remains the underlying priority for the government. Against the backdrop of significant macroeconomic challenges, microeconomic levers to promote growth and innovation have become increasingly prominent in policy debates. Successive reports from Lord Heseltine and Lord Young have focused attention on providing the economic infrastructure to support the small to mid-sized business community and generating the local conditions conducive to rebalancing the economy away from over dependence on the City. Integral to such an agenda is the recognition of the need to exploit the capabilities of existing institutions rather than engaging, yet again, in the creation of new agencies. Against this backdrop business schools have the potential to play a very significant role to act as local economic anchor institutions.”
The recommendations of the Innovation Task Force are wide ranging and the response of the ABS, its partners and other stakeholders will be multiple and will evolve. The ABS is today (21 May 2013) announcing an initial plan of work to take forward aspects of the recommendations of the report. Announcements of further work streams will emerge in due course. The ABS has committed to undertake an annual review of progress against the recommendations and will conduct a five year retrospective review of the impact of the report and the implementation of its recommendations in 2018.