The industry-integrated MBA as a way to future-proof business education

Business education faces a number of disruptive changes. To remain valuable, it has to combine the best of academic research and industry practice. This case is an example of a new industry-integrated MBA, developed, designed and delivered in deep collaboration with industry partners, which has the potential to create shared value to multiple stakeholders.

Natalia Nikolova
University of Technology Sydney

Background and objectives of the case
In 2018, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Business School introduced a new Advanced MBA, developed, designed and delivered in deep collaboration with industry partners. MBAs have been increasingly under scrutiny due to questions about their value and their increasing cost. Recent research has argued that to future-proof business education, universities need to increasingly embed industry practice in teaching and learning: “Scale and depth of industry based learning and internships [] will become increasingly critical as a source of competitive advantage for those universities who have the industry partnerships and pedagogy to do it well” (E&Y University of the Future Report 2018, p. 11).

When UTS Business School commenced the development of a new MBA, we made the decision that the new MBA has to respond to changes in the work and educational environment, including increased competition by online providers and new competitors, such as General Assembly, ubiquitous content and rapid changes in modern workplaces. Being an applied degree seeking to prepare the future leaders in organizations, the MBA brand is only valuable if it prepares graduates for the changing nature of work. However, developing a program merely based on academics’ view of the world of work is insufficient, as academics do not necessarily have the most up-to-date knowledge and understanding of changing work practices and work environment.

We therefore embarked on developing partnerships with a range of industry partners and involving them in the co-design and co-delivery of learning modules and experiences in the new MBA. We also formed an Advisory Board overseeing and providing feedback on the development of the program with representatives from a range of industry sectors and backgrounds. Over the two-years development period, the Advisory Board members provided insights which informed the structure, focus and delivery mode of the Advanced MBA. The Board continues to offer advice in relation to marketing and positioning of the Advanced MBA.

The primary objective of the Advanced MBA is to combine the best of both academic rigor and research, and practitioner best practice and applications, to ensure that MBA graduates are well prepared to take on leading roles in organizations.