Positive Impact Blog

Thought provoking insights for change makers

From business education to management education


So far, business schools have by and large assumed that managerial and leadership skills are a part of business skills and that these can be taught in a similar way as functional knowledge. But we have learned that this will not work.  Skill development is much more demanding and inclusive process than transmitting subject knowledge in various functional domains. In the future, most functional knowledge will be available for free, online and accessible from anywhere. Knowledge can be acquired by reading books or following online modules. And the acquisition of knowledge can be tested through various forms of standardized testing. Developing managerial and leadership skills, competences and attitudes of future leaders, however, require the involvement of the whole person and face-to-face interaction, what cannot work without a coaching and facilitation component. It is the role of business schools to develop the required learning environments to make sure students graduate with the required managerial and leadership skills to embrace the emerging global challenges. Such competences include:

–          Systemic and strategic thinking

–          Critical reflection and holistic decision-making

–          Conflict resolution and crisis management

–          Team-work, collaboration and leadership skills

–          Moral and ethical courage

–          A globally inclusive mindset

–          Practical wisdom.

Emerging leaders will manifest themselves by being courageously explorative, daringly marginal, equipped with an inner guiding system of intuition, common sense and a deep knowing that we all belong to one larger unit. Such leaders will need to comprehend and successfully address increasingly complex, and emerging, systemic issues. Leadership is defined here as entrepreneurship, i.e. people with the ability, desire and will to make a difference. And this will need to be done not just in business, but in any organization that needs to organize resources and people to jointly create value that is relevant for the world.

The basic requirement for developing these leaders is a framework that addresses the whole person and that creates the needed openness and support for them. As such, education must provide the fertile grounds that allows for profound personal and professional development. Students and participants, irrespective of their age, will need a serious amount of personal courage to confront their fears, to let go of the views they hold on the world and on themselves and to drop the mask of a so-called educated perspective. Daring to let go of the roles we hold requires a safe space. Developing and exploring both an inner attitude that is connected to our inner self and an outer attitude that reflects a truly human view of compassion requires a learning environment in which making mistakes is considered progress rather than failure.

Author: Katrin Muff PhD

Dr. Katrin Muff is Director of the Institute for Business Sustainability in Lucerne, Switzerland and Professor of Practice at the LUISS Business School in Rome, Italy. She consults leaders and boards in business sustainability and strategic transformation, and runs an executive program together with Thomas Dyllick. Her book “Five Superpowers for Co-creators” provides insights about issue-centered multi-stakeholder processes. She brings 20 years of international strategic and general management experience in Europe, Australia, North America and Russia and a decade of leadership in business education. www.KatrinMuff.com

6 thoughts on “From business education to management education

  1. For a critique of business schools have a look at Critical Chain by Eli Goldratt.

    The book is about project management but contains the mentioned critique about the value of MBAs and executive MBAs on offer and a different approach for business schools – offer their education with a results based fee.


  2. The insight that Katrin has shared is being shared in the BSL/HSG Sustainable Business Diploma. In taking part in this program, we are able to learn and to practice these skills. Working in small groups on specific projects and learning about leading change and sustainability is a only a small part of it. We have had the luxury of learning from several experts and it is very enriching.

  3. Smart thinking – a celver way of looking at it.