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Why Business Schools must keep on learning
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Focus on business education in Latin America
Heads of Business Schools from Latin America discuss Business School programmes in their region and how these are developing and interacting with business. Interviews by Jack Villanueva and Kevin Lee-Simion
President, ESAN Graduate School of Business, Peru
What does a ‘great’ MBA programme look like?
Great MBA programmes support the best product – students. To support them, we need to provide them with the key factors for success which include knowledge, soft skills, leadership and team work.
How has international business developed in Latin America?
To develop international business, we developed our students. We established very good connections with the business sector. We provided them with the leaders, and they told us what we have to teach in order to be relevant.
How are MBA programmes similar across the world, and how do they differ?
In the past they were quite similar. People in developing countries followed the programmes in the US and Europe, but MBA programmers try to solve the problems in the region. So now we have to adapt programmes and develop our own, to give our students the ability to solve problems in our society.
Do you think the MBA mindset has changed?
I don’t think so. People have always studied for MBAs because they want to lead institutions, and Schools have provided students with knowledge to lead institutions.
What are the main challenges Business Schools face?
Coping with change in terms of technology, and dealing with competition due to globalisation. We have to compete to provide solutions for society, and good quality professionals.
Should there still be a focus on local businesses and local economies as well as the international business economy?
You have to be good in your own country first. Then you can take your success abroad and provide other societies with solutions.
How important is it for Business Schools to continue to innovate in order to compete with businesses around the globe?
Innovation is important but sometimes innovation is confused with change. Organisations change and say they are innovative because they changed – but then go bankrupt. You need to innovate and it needs to be successful, otherwise it doesn’t mean anything.
General Director of the Graduate Business School of Universidad del Pacifico, Professor of the GBS of Universidad del Pacifico and Professor of ESADE Business School
How do you see the decision-making process changing over the next few years?
The decision-making process has to be strategically ongoing, because the environment is changing every day. Also, decision making is becoming more collaborative.
Decision making is the most important process in managing an organisation. If you don’t have the best people and a good process, it will be a disaster.
How are strategic models beneficial to a business?
Models are guides and their objective is to help you to think, reflect, and make decisions. In a decision process, a model gives you different steps you have to think about in order to make decisions.
How important is innovation in strategic management?
Innovation is one of the key elements of strategic management. But do you have to innovate in order to be successful? Innovation is something a company should have the option of doing, but doesn’t always have to do.
Do you think MBAs are learning the skills required to succeed in the future? Or do Business Schools need to evolve?
I think the content of the MBA is evolving as there are more soft skills, which are fundamental to getting a good job, managing companies, reading changes in the environment, making fast decisions, and adapting to change. These areas can’t be taught though ‘real’ content.
Why is it arguably more important than ever to create alliances?
We are in a global world and can’t do everything alone. In Latin America, it’s a way to improve, in terms of businesses and Business Schools. Alliances provide knowledge from abroad. It’s a very powerful tool. Nowadays, alliances are key and we have to see others not just as competitors, but as potential allies.
Professor of Information Systems, ESAN Graduate School of Business, Peru
Should there be a greater emphasis on technology in MBA programmes?
I think there is an emphasis but it’s not significant. We are dealing with millennials, 75% of whom interact through technology. Our MBA programmes are not prepared for that, as technology is used more as a learning platform. But this is a different dimension we are talking about with the technologicalically savvy guys from the millennial generation.
How important is the role technology for Schools?
I think technology is key and Schools are using it to gain connections around the world, to provide a leaning environment, create alliances, and persuade prospective MBAs and faculty to come to their School.
What innovations have you seen in the world of digital business?
Change in the learning environment. It’s now an open environment with different technologies, but they are converging into one purpose for Business Schools – enhancing learning opportunities
for students. We are under pressure to create a learning environment for the millennial generation.
What are your thoughts on e-learning? How beneficial do you think it is to an MBA?
It’s very important, but I believe in a more blended methodology. A 100% online programme is not yet well accepted in Latin America as employers believe these are low-quality programmes. I believe blended programmes will be the solution but I’m not against having a 100% virtual programme.
In what ways could Business Schools use technology to
I think technology should be used to attract, retain, and train our students, and change the mindset of professors who are using technology for basic things. Technology is a key component of being successful.
Do you think technology and millennials are essential for Peruvian Business?
I believe so because more than 40% of the population is made up of millennials. In the near future, the majority of the workforce will be millennials, they will be future entrepreneurs and will be running most companies.
How will millennial leadership compare to traditional leadership?
Millennials care about a lot more than just being managers. For one, they expect to have good mentors, and this will be the model they use in the companies of the future. They will become mentors and transformational leaders – focused on the person rather than the activity.
Do you think millennials lack soft skills when you compare them to previous students?
Yes, remember we are still talking about young people and they are in the process of developing. They lack social skills but it’s our job to teach them these. We can change their mindsets and help shape them so they can be successful.
What do you think the future holds for the MBA?
There will be many different varieties of MBA programme, and they will come together with a blended methodology. This means you will be able to connect with anybody around the world, but we will have to change our methods of teaching, and our professors.
Professor, Universidad del Pacífico Graduate School, Peru
Is there a big difference between how businesses are run and how the government is run?
There is in Latin America. There is a distrust between the government and the private sector. I believe many countries’ societies understand that they need one another, but the hard thing to do is to build the foundation for trust and identify those shared spaces for collaboration.
How important is innovation in solving social challenges?
Very important: innovation can be anything that is different and creates value. Understanding social systems creates opportunities to identify those small interventions where the government and private sector can work together.
To solve social challenges, do you think it is a one-size-fits-all solution all or is it case-by-case?
There are elements that are cross-cutting, and once you know how to tackle social issues, it’s down to harvesting local solutions to shared problems. This is one of the reasons I believe in design thinking because it really focuses people to listen, empathising first. Through that empathy, you can understand where the gaps are, and what people want, so you can collaborate better to deliver that.
In what ways will harvesting local innovative interventions solve common social challenges?
People look at social issues as problems, but people should see them as solutions. Take the informal economy. People originally viewed the informal economy as a problem. However, people were working in the informal economy. This means they were creating value through jobs, and therefore creating income. It was a solution.
How do you think the rise in digital technologies is affecting Business Schools?
Digital technologies are already transforming the way we teach and interact with students. Technologies are creating challenges, but also opportunities. For example, with virtual education, you are creating competition between Schools, but there are also opportunities for people to overcome historical geographic barriers and push education into areas that have been traditionally harder to reach.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing Business Schools in Latin America?
The biggest challenge for Business Schools in the region is to move away from a strong focus on teaching, as there are opportunities for research. Research can still contribute to value creation, but its potential has still not been tapped.
How much of an impact does cultural influence play in economic decisions?
You define decisions and use certain frames – influenced by social cultural backgrounds – to justify them. Then you identify decision criteria, and then the choices. These choices are permeated by your culture.
Oscar Muartua de Romaña
Director de la Escuela de RR.II. y Gobierno de la UTP en Universidad Tecnologica del Peru (UTP)
How important is it for countries to work together?
It is an obligation and we have always demanded that the international community resolve these problems. The UN means there is an international community of 200 nations, and stability has a path through hard times.
Do you think volatility makes collaboration more difficult?
It is more challenging, but we can provide more effective reactions. One of the biggest challenges, but also the most fundamental aspect, is to have dialogue, because only through this will countries understand each other. Also, science and technology are providing us with enough arguments to build our future to benefit all humanity.
Do you think international relations impact business education?
Business Schools need international relations to prepare future professionals. MBAs have a moral function – they are embodying the values of society while trying to benefit society.
will it be difficult for Schools to implement the UN’s sustainable development goals?
It will be difficult to adapt to reform. But these principles are nothing new. So it is about doing as much as we can through investment in education and generalised development.
How do international relations impact Latin America?
International relations have helped us create Schools, bring in faculty, and establish MBAs. We’ve learned how development can create good results for a country, and we made this into a reality. International relations have also helped us become aware of innovation and entrepreneurship. Business has played an important role in the growth of Latin America.
How are Schools in Latin America preparing MBAs for the future?
Business Schools are preparing MBAs for an open economy, and everything that has been done by Business Schools is an investment in Latin America. MBAs are also learning about the linkage between the Business School, industry, and government, and the importance of moral values.
Racheli Gabel Shemueli
Research Fellow and Professor in the Graduate School of Business of the Pacific University in Lima, Peru
What do you look for in a prospective MBA student?
We want people who are different and who acquire knowledge and implement it. They have to be responsible leaders who want to create change. We are looking to the kind of person that makes a difference.
What are the challenges in attracting these students?
The challenge is to state that our Business School is different. We say we are looking for quality, and we are very demanding.
How important is it for MBAs to have cross-cultural experience?
When we think about inter-cultural experience, we also think about local experience because Peru is very diverse. Cross-cultural experience is not just about travelling the world, but about working with diverse people. For an MBA to be exposed to cross-cultural experiences, and know how to work with this is important, in order for them to lead.
In what ways can cross-cultural issues be addressed in the future?
In-house learning is important so we can see what our students understand. Then it is a matter of doing the exercise, and doing it in your own life.
Why is innovation important?
Learning is interactive. I am learning from my students and they are learning from me.
Professors are now just facilitators of limited information, and as a result, knowledge comes from both sides, the students and the professor.
Enhancing social innovation in Africa
With Africa’s population projected to grow to 2.4 billion by 2050, there is an urgent need for the emergence of more social innovators, operating at scale, to address pressing problems in sectors from education and healthcare to employment and housing, writes Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli
Oiginally labelled the ‘dark continent’ and largely unknown to the rest of the world, Africa is now being described as the ‘last frontier’.
Following decades of slow and uneven economic growth, the average growth rate across African countries is estimated at 5%, and more than two-thirds of the countries in the region have enjoyed 10 or more years of uninterrupted growth.
The majority of the countries are recognised as democracies and internal and cross-border strife has diminished significantly. An average African woman’s life expectancy rate has risen from 41 in 1960 to 57 years in 2017, and more than 70% of children are in school, compared to around 40% in 1970. Many of these advances can be linked to the work of a growing number of passionate and committed social innovators: individuals who have identified novel solutions to the continent’s most pressing problems that are affecting the masses. These innovators operate in the public, private and non-profit sectors and are concentrated in the health, education and energy landscapes, with a growing number emerging in financial services, agriculture and sanitation.
Their work is being propelled by the rapid advances in mobile technology, which facilitates mobile health, mobile education, payment systems and mobile money. In addition, they are gradually being supported by a range of initiatives including innovation accelerators, hubs, prizes, and fellowships.
The most popular Africa-based social enterprises include the African Leadership Academy and African Leadership University, Ashesi University, Bridge International Academies, One Acre Fund, Riders for Health and Sanergy. These organisations have received numerous local and global awards and prizes for their pioneering efforts, and have strong links to the international community, which has provided funding and support for their work.
There is also a growing number of organisations operating on the African Continent, which are essentially home-grown initiatives with minimal global recognition. They include:
- Action Health Incorporated established by Dr Uwem and Nike Esiet in 1999, to address the rising incidence of HIV / AIDS and teenage pregnancies in Lagos, Nigeria. Over a 10-year period, they designed and introduced sexuality and reproductive health curricula into public schools, fighting against the odds in a deeply religious society. Today, this curricula and its delivery has been adopted across the majority of the public schools in the country, and have played a key role in reducing HIV/AIDs and teenage pregnancies.
- CLEEN Foundation founded by Innocent Chukwuma, was established in 1998 to address rising crime rates in Nigeria’s major cities and create bridges between the police and citizens. Faced with stiff resistance from both sides of the divide from the onset, CLEEN worked with the Nigerian Police Force to revive and strengthen its internal accountability mechanisms such as the Police Public Complaints Bureau (PCB) in six Nigerian states. It also encouraged the police force to make its processes open and transparent, which ultimately exposed the gross misconduct of many police officers, leading to the dismissal of more than 5,000.
- IkamvaYouth in South Africa was established in 2003 by Joy Olivier and Makhosi Gogwana. The organisation equips students in grades 9, 10 and 11, from disadvantaged communities, with the knowledge, skills, networks and resources to access tertiary education and / or employment opportunities. These ‘learners’ eventually become volunteers and ultimately continue the cycle of giving back to the next generation of ‘learners’. IkamvaYouth operates in the Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, North West, and the Eastern Cape, reaching thousands of young people.
- The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), was initiated in 2008 as a marketplace or platform that facilitates the trading of agricultural produce between buyers and sellers. It provides transparent price information for both farmers and buyers, and protects both farmers and traders from price drops and price hikes, respectively. ECX harnesses innovation, technology, and storage infrastructures to mobilise products from smallholder farmers and ensures product quality, delivery, and payment.
Challenges faced by social innovators
Social innovators operating on the African continent face challenges that are not unique to Africa, but are often more severe, with higher stakes. My interviews with more than 80 African social innovators have raised four critical shared challenges:
- lack of credible data for local communities, countries, and regions, which slows down the processes for planning, piloting, and scaling social innovations and hinders the ability of key stakeholders to measure their impact on society.
- heterogeneity within and across countries, which includes significant diversity in colonial histories, language, religion, culture, community assets, and social development, essentially means that there is ‘no single story’. Innovations must be tweaked or significantly altered to enable scaling from one community to another, which is not only more expensive, but also slows the scaling process.
- fragmented ecosystems, in almost every sector, especially the agricultural, education and health landscapes, limit the ability of innovators to reach large numbers of people in record time. Consider the agriculture sector, where 85% of arable land in Africa is cultivated by farmers with less than two hectares. This essentially means that any intervention that wants to scale up in this sector can only do so by working with farmer clusters as opposed to individual farmers. The process of creating clusters of farmers, hospitals, schools, small and medium-sized enterprises, and other sectors, and building trust among
- these groups, takes time and requires financial resources.
- significant talent, infrastructure and financing gaps which limit scaling. For example, only one-third of Africans living in rural areas are within two kilometres of an all-season road, compared with two-thirds of the population in other developing regions. This, in turn, makes it extremely difficult and expensive to extend healthcare, education, and agriculture innovations to communities in rural areas. Sadly, with underdeveloped distribution and marketing systems, social innovators essentially work along all aspects of the value chain, filling gaps that ordinarily would not exist in other markets to reach people.
Prerequisites for success
All social innovators need to invest in critical building blocks for success – rooted in sound management principles: clear missions, visions, and values. However, there are at least four prerequisites to establishing successful social innovations in the African context which deserve significant attention.
1 Compelling business models: Social innovators need to develop compelling business models, defined by six critical components: demand driven, measurable impact, simple, engages the community, leverages technology and low-cost. These six components differentiate initiatives which die at the pilot phase or when the donor funding ends, from initiatives that are sustainable and able to achieve scale, spanning communities and even countries. Innovations that are demand driven essentially meet the needs of individuals, who value the product or service and are willing to contribute their time and financial resources, regardless of how minimal, to obtain them. In addition, the innovators have determined the most cost-effective approaches to deliver at scale and developed effective systems and structures to support their scaling effort. They often use simple payment mechanisms using mobile technology and support from microfinance partners, where applicable. These tools are highly dependent on a robust data – tracking system to gauge impact and usage. Two examples from the energy sector that demonstrate the power of demand-driven and sustainable business models are M-KOPA Solar and Off Grid Electric, which both operate in East Africa. They provide solar solutions to more than 550,000 households using a pay-as-you go model, and have demonstrated the tremendous potential at the bottom of pyramid
2 Talent for scaling: Talent on the African Continent remains a huge constraint for all growth sectors given the weak education systems and the global opportunities that are available to the best and brightest. As a result, every social innovator needs to invest in attracting and retaining a dream team composed of mission-driven high achievers. They also need to invest in recruiting a committed and independent board of directors, and engage volunteers, short-term consultants, and fellows. Organisations such as EDUCATE! In Uganda and Sanergy in Kenya, have designed and implemented creative strategies for attracting, retaining, and developing talent. They have also invested in building a culture of innovation and excellence, which attracts individuals from the private sector to their organisations.
They offer tailored training programmes, travel fellowships and significant job responsibilities for their team members and have also developed modular approaches for scaling talent.
3 Funding for Innovation: There is a broad range of financing options available to social innovators in Africa, depending on whether they operate for-profit, nonprofit or hybrid organisations. These financing options range from fee-for-service and cross subsidisation to externally generated funds such as grants, awards, fellowships, challenge funds, crowdfunding, impact investments and loans. In addition, the funding landscape, especially for impact investments, has expanded dramatically over the past 10 years, with cities such as Nairobi hosting more than 60 impact investment funds and other investment vehicles, where only a few existed 15 years ago. In-spite of the plethora of funds, most local social innovators struggle to obtain financing for their ventures, while funders complain that they cannot find initiatives that are investment ready. Indeed, external funders are only interested in engaging with organisations that have strong credibility, governance structures, financial management systems and controls and can demonstrate the ability to use the funds to achieve results.
Social innovators operating in Africa have obtained financing work diligently to establish and communicate a strong business case and theory of change, backed by sound data that establishes a clear need and sustainable demand. They also amplify their impact work through creative communication strategies to raise broad-based awareness and effectively differentiate themselves. In addition, they demonstrate strong transparent systems and structures, a culture of ethics and accountability, attractive return on investment ratios and exit options for impact investors, where applicable.
4 Partnerships with key stakeholders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors: Social innovators cannot achieve impact and scale without cross-sector collaborations, rooted in shared values and a desire to achieve collective impact. This is especially relevant in highly regulated sectors such as health and education.
Sadly, there are few examples of partnerships in the African context, largely linked to significant distrust among actors, the intense competition for the perceived ‘small pie’ of resources and support structures and the fear of giving up control. Partnerships are also challenging in an environment where there is a high level of bureaucracy and red tape within government institutions which ordinarily should serve as catalysts for collaborations and innovations. In reality, social innovators who successfully collaborate in this context, actively map the ‘ecosystem’, determining which stakeholders can serve as champions, opponents or even beneficiaries. They then develop strategies for interfacing with all key actors, proactively shaping their ecosystems and forming strategic cross-sector collaborations that foster impact and scaling.
Preparing for The future
With Africa’s population projected to grow to 2.4 billion by 2050 – more than 70% under the age of 30 years old, with 60% in cities and towns – there is an increasing need for the emergence of more social innovators, operating at scale. These individuals will essentially need to develop creative and innovative solutions in education, healthcare, employment, sanitation, security, electricity, transportation, and housing to meet the needs of the people.
The social innovators will need also need critical leadership and management skills, as well as the talent, financing and partnerships required to surmount the obstacles they will face to pilot and scale interventions.
Indeed, Business Schools in Africa and around the globe will have to play a critical role in preparing this next generation of social entrepreneurs and innovators.
The Bertha Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town is just one example of the numerous institutions in Africa and across the globe that are working to inspire, empower, and equip the social innovators.
I am convinced that the ability of more social innovators to pilot, establish and scale their initiatives to solve Africa’s most pressing problems will transform the continent and continue to ensure that Africa progresses from the last frontier to the brightest continent over the next decade.
Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, Harvard MBA 1999; Wharton Undergrad 1995 is a serial social entrepreneur based in Lagos Nigeria. She is the founder of LEAP Africa – www.leapafrica.org, co-founder of AACE Foods Processing & Distribution Ltd. – www.aacefoods.com and co-founder of Sahel Consulting & Advisory Ltd – www.sahelcp.com. She is the author of – Social Innovation in Africa: A Practical Guide for Scaling Impact, published by Routledge in 2016.
Broadening students’ cultural experience
Josep Franch, Dean of ESADE Business School, Barcelona, discusses current differences between Spanish Business Schools and those in Latin America and the opportunities for Latin American Schools to attract more international students. Interview by Andrew Main Wilson
Considering the landscape of the top Spanish Business Schools compared to Latin America, what are your main observations of the differences and the similarities?
I would say that European Business Schools in general, and Spanish Schools in particular, have made significant improvements over the past 10 to 15 years.
If you take, for example, the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking, in 2000 it was made up of 80% US Schools and 20% European Schools. If you consider the same ranking today, you’ll find 40% US schools, one third European Schools and 20% Asian Schools.
This improvement didn’t come overnight. It started in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when European Schools began to internationalise. They started to change their reputation to attract international students and faculty. This happened 25-30 years ago and, as a result, the majority of European Schools today are probably at the forefront of internationalisation.
When I consider Latin America, I still see it as regionally based, attracting regional talent, whereas at the majority of European Business Schools – and in the case of top Spanish Schools – we’re attracting students from all over the world in our MBA.
We have 30% of students coming from Latin America, 30% from Asia, 25% from Europe and 15% from North America, so it’s a broad profile.
What do you think Latin American Business Schools need to do to attract more students from Spain and Portugal?
Spain has, traditionally, been seen as the gateway to Europe for many Latin American Schools and countries. But at the same time [as a Latin American School] you need a focus on quality.
International accreditations are the first step, but you also need to establish your brand. This can be done through publications of your key faculty who can produce and publish research in top journals.
You need also to be relevant in the corporate world. Here, I believe Latin America has a great opportunity, with corporates coming from the regions expanding abroad. A number of [global multinationals] are seeing opportunities in Latin America.
At ESADE, some students from Europe or Asia take our MBA because they see it as a gateway to Latin America.
In a global world, there are lots of opportunities, but [success] doesn’t come overnight. It’s based on years of investment, publications, visiting companies, attracting people and placing graduates in
At the end of the day, your graduates and alumni are your best ambassadors.
Do you think blended and online learning this will be the next step for Schools in Latin America, and will it be a struggle, in terms of investment?
We’re all facing the same huge challenge. But, at the same time, it’s a huge opportunity. You can develop e-learning programmes anytime and anywhere, so the online revolution allows physical boundaries to disappear. I don’t see a difference between Latin American Business Schools and Schools in other parts of the world, in the sense that blended programmes are not a choice. A blended solution is something you need. It’s a percentage of your curriculum, but all programmes have to be blended. Fully-online degrees are a different issue. Schools across the world are discussing the next steps. How fast they’ll be able to go depends on how many resources they have and how fast a School moves.
It also depends on how many risks they’re willing to take, because those that move first will bear the greatest risk. Other Schools will be playing the safe route of jumping on the bandwagon, but they’ll not be the first mover. In saying that, top Latin American Schools are coping well with, and addressing this challenge.
You have partnerships with Schools in Chile, Colombia and Peru. What advice would you give Latin American Schools in building partnerships in Europe?
We have a joint multinational MBA with Adolfo Ibáñez University in Santiago, Chile, and a double degree with Fundacao Getulio Vargas EAESP in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We are working with Universidad de los Andes in Colombia and Universidad del Pacifico in Peru. In Rio de Janeiro, we’re working with Fundacao Getulio Vargas on some executive education programmes. We’re working with some other universities in the region as well.
I believe these partnerships are going to grow because they allow Business Schools to combine resources, areas of expertise and the footprint of the different partners in the same programmes.
Partnerships also allow Schools to launch programmes that maybe they wouldn’t have launched on their own because of [limitations in terms of] size, capability, or lack of influence that they have in a
These partnerships are a good thing, but Business Schools have to be able to find a suitable partner. To me, one of the most important things is that you share the same approach and philosophy. A partnership is like a marriage. When you’re dating, you need to know the person and share
some things. Partnerships based on economic or financial factors are probably not the best partnerships, if you don’t share a vision, values, or if you don’t have the same ideas in terms of the programme and the education proposal for the Business community.
What would you advise our Schools to do to encourage more Spanish and Portuguese-speaking European students to come and experience a Latin American School?
Students have different ideas and motivations to go on exchange programmes. I’ve found very often that we might have Spanish students who prioritise going to the US or Asia because they see them as ‘cool’ destinations, rather than opting to go to Latin America.
Sometimes, students assume – mistakenly in my opinion – that in the majority of Latin American countries, because the same language is spoken there, they cannot improve in a second language, but they can if they go to the US or another destination.
It’s not just about the language, but also the cultural experience. If we share the same language or similar language, students can still learn different ways of doing business compared to Spain in terms of how international markets are evolving. There are fast-growing markets in Latin America with lots of opportunities.
Some students want to go to Latin America because they want to pursue an international career and want to spend some years in that region because they will have lots of opportunities to develop themselves. We [as Business School leaders] need to keep insisting that there are plenty of opportunities [in Latin America] that students are failing to identify because they’re looking for the big names of American universities, that are attracting them to a place – rather than what they can learn.
Josep Franch, Dean of ESADE Business School
Josep Franch has extensive teaching experience in various countries. He is an expert in international marketing and global marketing, and his main area of specialisation is brand management in multinational and global companies. He has also worked on subjects related to digital marketing and relationship marketing.
From an educational point of view, he is one of the main European experts in the case study method. He has published more than 50 case studies in the fields of marketing and international business, some of which are available through the The Case Centre (formerly the European Case Clearing House).
He has won the EFMD Case Writing Competition on three occasions (1999, 2001 and 2013) and also has three case writing awards at the North American Case Research Association (NACRA) Annual Conference (2004, 2010 and 2015). He regularly serves as a track chair in several case conferences and as a reviewer for different case journals and case collections, he sits on the Editorial Board of the Case Research Journal and Wine Business Case Research Journal and is one of the Co-Editors of the
Global Jesuit Case Series. He regularly delivers sessions on how to write and teach with case studies, both at
ESADE as well as for other programmes including the International Teachers Programme (ITP).
He has previous experience as marketing manager at Fuji Film and has worked as a consultant for different companies, including FC Barcelona, Interroll, Novartis, Soler & Palau, Sony and Xerox.
He has also worked in many in-company training programmes with different companies including APM Terminals, Bunge, Desigual, Esteve, Novartis, Roca, Roland DG, Saint-Gobain, Sony, Telefónica and Tenaris.
Achieving positive change
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Exploring the digital marketing revolution
To create and communicate superior customer value, marketers must now combine traditional advertising with social and digital tools, argues American marketing guru Philip Kotler, in an interview with David Woods-Hale
You’ve written Marketing 4.0? What has changed since Marketing 3.0 was published in 2010?
Marketing is undergoing a digital revolution. We published Marketing 3.0 seven years ago to help companies broaden their view of how computers and the internet impact marketing theory and practice. We stressed the importance of meeting the needs of women, young people, and ‘netizens’ in carrying out company marketing activities.
Today there is a need to pay attention to the growing role of social and digital media. Social media – such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat – create an increasingly connected world and they stimulate greater communications and sales to a wider world. Digital media is enabling artificial intelligence (AI) and the ‘internet of things’ (I0T) and increasing the rate at which robotisation and automation is penetrating business. Our aim in Marketing 4.0 is to illustrate the growing role and impact of digital marketing. I’ve also described this ‘new marketing’ in my 15th edition of Marketing Management.
How can Marketing 4.0 help in bringing marketers up to date with the current skills required – from traditional to digital?
In the past, consumers made purchase decisions largely in retail outlets, whether in an auto dealership or in a large department store. Some consumers also used the telephone or mail order catalogues. Today, a growing number of consumers are making more of their purchases online via online retailers. In-store retailing is facing a major decline: witness, in the US, the news of Macy’s closing many stores, clothing store The Limited going out of business and shopping centres in deep trouble.
Consumers still go into stores to sample and touch the product and then use their smartphone to see if they can a better deal elsewhere. Many retail shops are evolving into ‘showrooms’, partly charged by the company to its advertising budget. Business-to-business transactions are being increasingly conducted with digital media. Most companies list their product catalogues on the internet. Purchasing agents are happy to compare prices on the internet and are less interested in accepting sales calls. All this points to the need for companies to acquire social and digital skills before they are outclassed by more sophisticated digital competitors.
You describe ‘shifting power dynamics’ in the market. Can you explain this in more detail?
Power has been shifting from the advertising giants who used 30-second commercials to inform and persuade consumers, to savvy consumers – who rely on their friends and acquaintances, plus online product ratings, to make their brand choices. Power has moved from companies to consumers. Companies must now develop fresh pictures of how consumers journey toward making their final purchases. It’s no longer a journey from a 30-second commercial to a purchase but from a stimulus on the internet, or from a friend, to a search for further information, to a purchase. Marketing 4.0 discusses the key steps in consumer journeys and the various touch points that will have an impact on the final purchase decision.
You explain how the rules of marketing regularly change, but this time the very customers have changed – and this is revolutionary – can you talk a bit more about this?
The basic maxim of marketing hasn’t changed. Decide on the consumer need your company wants to meet and the individuals who strongly have this need. Create a solution that meets this consumer need better than any competitor can meet it. See your job as one of creating superior customer value and communicating this value in a superior way.
What is revolutionary is the need for the company to incorporate social and digital tools to carry out this work. Companies need to collect ‘big data’ about individual consumers who have specific needs and apply sophisticated marketing analytics to arrive at consumer insights that can be converted into compelling consumer value propositions.
How do cyclical trends in the economy affect marketers? More specifically, if demand-led growth is on the decline, what single marketing effort is the most important to avoiding a loyal consumer defecting to a competitor?
Buyer behaviour obviously changes in times of market growth versus market decline. When a recession, or a fear of recession, occurs, consumers will intelligently reduce their expenditure and move towards lower-cost products. Every competitor will have a choice: increase the value of the offer, or cut the price of the offer. Normally it makes sense for the company to retain the price and better document and confirm the offer’s superior customer value. If superior value doesn’t exist, the company either has to add more value (for example, free shipment) or cut its price.
Do you think the original elements of the traditional marketing mix will still be relevant in 10 years’ time?
The marketer’s main toolkit remains the 4Ps (product, price, place, and promotion) and STP (segmentation, targeting, positioning). Each of these elements undergoes modernisation all the time. Product includes packaging, as well as service products. Place is being redefined into omni-channel marketing but it is still place. Promotion is including digital and social communication alongside print and broadcast media. I would welcome a new marketing framework if it promised to address marketing decision problems in a more decisive way. Until then, most companies will use the traditional framework in preparing their marketing plans.
How will creative and media agencies need to evolve over the next five years to keep up with the pace of technology?
The agency of the future will develop skills in both traditional and digital advertising. This would be better than hiring separate traditional and digital agencies because companies must connect traditional and digital advertising. A 30-second commercial may need to include a digital address showing where viewers can go for more information. The job of the ‘full-service agency’ is to find synergies between the two types of communication, so that 2 + 2 = 5, not 4.
Do you think that the chief marketing officer (CMO) role will be replaced by a combination of chief tech officer and chief analyst, or is this still a viable career path?
I’d like the CMO position to continue to manage the integration of all the elements that will impact on customer demand. The CMO should spend at least 50% of their time working with the other ‘chiefs’ in the company. The real value of the CMO will be realised when he or she is included in all the strategy planning. It would be unwise to confine marketing to designing tactical moves. The CMO is in the best position to foresee where the particular market is going economically and technologically. The CMO’s staff must include an excellent digital person and technology person.
Do you think marketing and HR may evolve into one business function, as people leadership and organisational branding become increasingly connected, with shared goals and purposes?
I would prefer the heads of marketing and HR to work very closely together but remain separate functions. The CMO is highly interested in seeing that HR hires very service-minded people. In the hotel business, Marriott says that the first job is to hire the right employees and then the customers will come. The CMO should support the HR person to gain a sufficient budget to hire excellent employees, not just average employees. The evidence is strong that excellent employees have a productivity impact that is several times that of average employees.
Do you think that zero-based budgeting for marketing, based on the Unilever example, will be widely adopted, to make marketing entirely accountable? How can value be measured throughout all channels since tracking is harder offline?
Zero-based budgeting for marketing means starting each year with no budget allocated to marketing, until marketers propose specific marketing spend – along with the evidence that results will exceed costs. This is in contrast to normal budget setting where the budgets of the past year are the starting point, raised or lowered slightly. We acknowledge that some past marketing expenditures were not productive, and that from time to time, it is worth reviewing each major budget item to decide whether it should be eliminated, decreased or increased.
The problem with zero-based budgeting for marketing is two-fold. Many campaigns need continuity and they shouldn’t be cut off before they have achieved their full impact.
Also, it is increasingly difficult to assess the financial impact of a particular digital tool or a particular marketing channel in an increasingly complex and interactive world.
Zero-based budgeting is a highly impractical tool for yearly budgeting. However, I grant that it could raise marketing efficiency by being introduced every few years.
Do you believe leaders across all disciplines and functions need to change their mindsets to succeed in a volatile world?
Today’s world is increasingly characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). Donald Trump’s election as US President has greatly contributed to VUCA. If Hillary Clinton had been elected (she won the popular vote by 3 million votes), we would arguably not be in a VUCA world. Events would have taken their normal course and businesses would carry normal expectations.
But Trump sends out tweets in the middle of the night, many of which attack companies, journalists, judges, pollsters, or the voters themselves. These attacks are a sign of paranoia. Many business leaders have to think twice about any move for fear that the president will call them. Consumers are worried about their health benefits and they are no longer certain about social security and Medicare. They, and businesses, are spending their money more carefully, which slows down economic growth.
My answer to that? Business leaders must change their mindsets, in light of Trump’s erratic behaviour; he issues executive orders almost daily. His behaviour has been copied by populist leaders abroad with the effect of introducing even more instability into the world economy.
Are there marketing skills that all MBA students and graduates need to thrive in a VUCA business world?
Most Business programmes are training their students in social and digital skills. They are also making students more aware of the effects of climate change. Professors are increasingly criticising shareholder value as the measure of business success and replacing it with stakeholder value as a more comprehensive measure of business performance. Marketing students graduate with a broader view of the factors that affect corporate image and reputation than previous Business School graduates.
And finally, do you feel optimistic about business adaptability as the
world becomes more uncertain but also more connected?
Business literature increasingly emphasises company agility and responsiveness to rapidly changing conditions. Companies need to monitor technological trends, political debates, and economic issues. Companies such as Unilever, Starbucks and Amazon show incredible business adaptability. But many companies are still coasting and need a few more shocks to wake up. My hope is that an increasing number of companies recognise that growing income inequality will hurt, not help them, and that they need to take a more expansive customer benefit and welfare view of what makes an economy strong.
Philip Kotler is the SC Johnson & Son Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
Professor Kotler received his Master’s Degree at the University of Chicago and his PhD Degree at MIT, both in economics, conducting post-doctoral work in mathematics at Harvard University and in behavioural science at the University of Chicago.
He is the author of 57 books and has published more than 150 articles in leading journals. He was the first recipient of the American Marketing Association’s ‘Distinguished Marketing Educator Award’ (1985) and has received a host of other accolades, being inducted into the Management Hall of Fame in 2013.
Kotler has consulted for such companies as IBM, General Electric, AT&T, Honeywell, Bank of America, and Merck in marketing strategy and planning, marketing organisation and international marketing. He has travelled throughout Europe, Asia and South America advising companies on applying economic and marketing science principles to increase competitiveness, and governments on developing the skill sets and resources of their companies for global competition.
He has been Chairman of the College of Marketing of the Institute of Management Sciences, Director of the American Marketing Association, is a member of the Board of Governors of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and of the Advisory Board of the Drucker Foundation.
He has received a number of honorary doctoral degrees from several international organisations.
Unpicking the strengths myth
The current emphasis on strengths has fundamentally discouraged people from challenging themselves to become better leaders, argue James M Kouzes and Parry Z Posner, authors of Learning Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader
For millennia, people have been searching for a magic formula or elixir that explains leadership success: from ancient literature on leadership that searched for the individual kissed by the gods (Charisma) to historical ‘great man approaches’ (already limited by gender bias). However, the current fascination is with the concept of ‘strengths’.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the notion that there are certain skills, knowledge, and attitudes that produce higher levels of performance in a task, whether it’s sales, engineering, nursing, or hospitality. Leadership is required of all professions, and it has its own set of skills and abilities. So far, so good. But the strengths approach has been misapplied to mean that you should only undertake tasks in which you are strong, and avoid wasting your time attending to your weaknesses; in areas where you don’t have natural talent, you or your organisation should assign tasks to other people.
The emphasis on strengths has fundamentally discouraged people from challenging themselves to become better leaders. That’s not to say that people shouldn’t attend to their strengths, nor that they are not happier and more successful when using their strengths at work and in other aspects of their lives. But as it stands, they can just throw up their hands and say ‘well, envisioning the future just isn’t a strength of mine, so I’m not going to become very good at it’ or ‘I’m not very comfortable letting people know how much I appreciate their accomplishments, so I won’t bother’.
First, ignoring feedback about things you’re not good at is inconsistent with a lot of research on learning. Second, it’s not very motivating to tell people to give up before they even start, or when things don’t go as well as expected the first time they try them. Finally, this thinking is impractical: organisations can’t bring in a new person every time someone makes a mistake or there’s a new challenge that someone initially doesn’t have the skills and abilities to handle.
Over all the years we’ve been researching leadership, we’ve consistently found that adversity and uncertainty characterise every personal-best leadership experience. Typically, they’re challenges people have never previously faced. When confronting things they haven’t done before, people often have to develop new skills and overcome existing weaknesses and limitations. They make mistakes and may even feel incompetent. If people built only on strengths, they would likely not challenge themselves or their organisations. You simply cannot do your best without searching for new experiences, doing things you’ve never done, making mistakes, and learning from them. Challenge is an important stimulus for leadership and for learning.
Learning is the master skill
We have a question for you: ‘Have you ever learned a new game or a new sport?’ Undoubtedly, your answer is ‘yes’. We get that response every time we ask the question in our classes or leadership development programmes. Invariably every hand in the room goes up.
We then ask ‘and how many of you got it perfect the first day you played it?’ People chuckle. No hands go up. No one ever gets it right the first time.
There was one occasion, however, when Urban Hilger, Jr raised his hand and said that on the very first day he went skiing he got it perfect. Naturally we were surprised and curious, so we asked Urban to tell us about the experience. Here’s what he said:
‘It was the first day of skiing classes. I skied all day long, and I didn’t fall down once. I was so elated. I felt so good. So I skied up to the instructor and I told him of my great day. You know what the ski instructor said? He told me, “personally, Urban, I think you had a lousy day”. I was stunned. “What do you mean lousy day? I thought the objective was to stand up on these boards, not fall down.” The ski instructor looked me straight in the eyes and replied, “Urban, if you’re not falling, you’re not learning”.’
Urban’s ski instructor understood that if you can stand up on your skis all day long the first time out, you’re only doing what you already know how to do and are not pushing yourself to try anything new and difficult. By definition, learning is about something you don’t already know. Those who do what they already know how to do may have lots of experience, but after a while they don’t get any better because they’re not learning anything new.
Research has shown that teachers, for example, improve during their first five years in the field, as measured by student learning, according to University of Virginia psychology professor Daniel Willingham. He goes on to report that after five years their performance curve goes flat, and a teacher with 20 years of experience, on average, is no better or worse than a teacher with 10. ‘It appears that most teachers work on their teaching until it is above some threshold and they are satisfied with their proficiency,’ concludes Willington. The same might be said about many leaders.
So ask yourself: ‘Are you pushing yourself to learn something new when it comes to leadership every day? Or, are you just doing what you already know how to do? Are you stretching yourself to go beyond your comfort zone — beyond what you do well enough — and engaging in activities that test you and build new skills?
‘Are you learning?’
This is an exclusive edited extract from Learning Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader, for Business Impact by James M Kouzes and Parry Z Posner (published by The Leadership Challenge, a Wiley Brand, 2016)
Daniel T Willingham, Why Don’t Students Like School? A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What it Means for the Classroom (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009)
Leaders never stop learning
Andrew Main Wilson, CEO of the Business Graduates Association, launches Business Impact and outlines the mission and vision of the organisation
Thank you for taking the time to read Business Impact, our very first edition of the magazine which will discuss many of the issues that form the DNA of the biggest ever brand launch in our 52-year history – the Business Graduates Association.
We were originally founded in 1967 as the Business Graduates Association, before rebranding as AMBA – the Association of MBAs – in 1987, to focus more specifically on accrediting the world’s leading MBA and masters in general management Business School programmes, while also providing membership to AMBA Schools’ students and graduates.
Now, in 2019, we are relaunching this powerful brand name, which will stand out in a business education market full of difficult-to-remember brand name acronyms.
Our vision is very clear. BGA will champion the crucial importance of lifelong learning, selecting Business Schools as members who clearly demonstrate a passion for practical, entrepreneurial business education and an evident commitment to social responsibility and sustainability, across all their programme modules.
BGA will focus on providing membership, validation and accreditation across the entire programme portfolios of high-quality Business Schools. We will also offer free individual BGA membership to the students and alumni
of our BGA Schools.
Geographically, we will encourage membership from some of the world’s most sophisticated Business Schools, through to inspirational Business Schools in some of the world’s poorest countries, who can demonstrate admirable evidence in making a real difference to the future of their countries’ economies.
I have been very fortunate in interviewing some of the world’s greatest business and political leaders, from Bill Gates to Lady Thatcher, to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They all share at least one common belief: the best way to increase fair wealth distribution and improve the quality of people’s lives worldwide, is through better education. Ultimately in life, whether a country is capitalist or communist, a democracy or a dictatorship, business funds society. So better business education for all is right at the forefront of improving our world.
This vision is the driving force behind BGA’s launch. We look forward to welcoming you to the BGA family and making a real difference worldwide to the education of our current and future business leaders.
Time for Business Schools to practice what they teach
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