they can take a free MOOC online. Many large consulting firms offer large-scale online programmes for a fee with coaches helping these future leaders to apply the knowledge to their situation. Other consultancies give workshops that use business leaders’ knowledge and experience to create new knowledge for the organisation. Executive coaches are providing in-depth services on how future leaders can learn to ‘be’ in their own business contexts. Finally, a number of social network providers offer services for business school alumni networks that are in some cases far superior to those provided by the schools themselves.
Which road to take?
Faced with this unbundling trend, business schools can take one of two potential roads in the future. The well-travelled one sees business schools retreating to their ‘roots’—creating knowledge through great research and relying on their stellar brand name. The less-travelled one sees schools providing a suite of unbundled offerings that focus on the leader’s development journey.
Most if not all business schools are following the first path, hoping that new knowledge ‘content’ will attract future business leaders.
But since the new knowledge lies in the heads of the faculty, good professors may bypass the traditional business school delivery system and go direct to MOOCs in the hope of reaching a wider audience. Should the programme prove to be widely popular, the benefit will revert primarily to the professor and not the school. We have already started to witness the creation of the star professor through this mechanism. Their speaking fees increase and consulting opportunities improve, and the business school idly watches as its ‘reputation’ apparently starts to benefit. To maintain or improve its reputation, the school must search for star faculty; as a result, recruitment costs inevitably increase. It is no wonder that the size of fund-raising campaigns for business schools is very large—from 100 million euros to several billion. Paradoxically, with increased funds from ‘fund-raising’, these business schools can become even more removed from market forces. Only a few schools will be able to continue playing this game. Others will start to lose their lustre.
The second, less-travelled road is to create an unbundled