The new normal of collaboration: the view from Latin America

The deans of the School of Management and Social Sciences at Universidad ORT Uruguay, the Universidad de San Andrés Business School in Argentina and Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) EAESP in Brazil discuss new possibilities for Business Schools to partner with others and widen their reach

The fall-out from the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t all doom and gloom. The crisis might just have opened up possibilities for Business Schools to partner in new ways and widen the reach of individual Schools. But competition in an ever-growing market (particularly within the online executive education space) cannot be ignored. Three deans of leading Business Schools in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay discussed trends around globalisation and inter-institutional partnerships on day two of the AMBA & BGA Global Conference 2021.     

‘The pandemic opened up other possibilities we could explore,’ reported Luiz Brito, Dean at Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) EAESP, referring to the uptake of new technology and online learning modes. He outlined a scheme for 30 Business Schools to work together to provide content, with each producing a single elective online in order to benefit from access to all 30. This would minimise operational costs, while offering students diversity of course content. ‘I think this [idea] could now be exploited further and we could make joint courses instead of joint degrees, [in which there are] two or three Schools offering courses together,’ he said. ‘That would enrich the experience of our students.’

He added that the use of remote synchronous learning makes faculty exchange easier and more affordable and is therefore likely to be retained: ‘Faculty exchanges is a key driver because it can promote the further collaboration between Schools.’

Challenges remain, however. Sharing his perspective on the changing nature of alliances, Gustavo Genoni, Dean of the Universidad de San Andrés Business School, reported that some of his School’s guest professors have been banned from teaching at other universities by their home university. ‘They see that the competitive playground has expanded and therefore [have decided that] they cannot keep sharing resources if they are going to compete.’

Digitisation is behind much of this expansion, as Genoni explained: ‘We have Schools from all over the world offering programmes in Argentina. We have to compete on executive education with big universities we didn’t have to compete with before. We have to compete with Harvard, which is crazy because they are much older, much more experienced and much bigger than us. So, we will have to rethink our offer, consider where we want to compete and where we don’t want to, and decide on our niches and areas of focus.’

However, the overriding feeling among these three Business School leaders was that the social isolation experienced by many during Covid-19 has merely served to emphasise the value of a global outlook in business education. To this point, Gastón Labadie, Dean of the School of Management and Social Sciences at Universidad ORT Uruguay, reminded attendees that actions speak louder than words, describing two dual degrees his School has recently arranged with counterparts in China (‘the main trading partner for Uruguay for quite a few years’) and its plans for further agreements with institutions in India.

‘The Indian connection would be very interesting because we have a set of Indian firms that have significant presence in Uruguay, in part even sharing services for the region,’ he commented. ‘Globalisation is even more important than it used to be.’

Brito agreed, adding that ‘what we learned from the pandemic will actually foster further globalisation instead of reducing it.’ He reasoned that Covid-19 had allowed Schools to ‘bring elements of globalisation to all students’, whereas previously, only some were able to take a semester abroad or make international trips.’

However, despite this potential for Schools to collaborate through digital innovations, there was no suggestion that in-person learning would be rendered obsolete. ‘An important part of an exchange programme is the cultural education – doing things in a different culture, broadening your perspective, extending your network,’ said Genoni. ‘And that cannot be done online.’ Labadie highlighted the ‘repressed demand’ for travelling from professors, students, and young people. ‘I think the new normal is going to come both ways – a hybrid combinations of distance learning, face-to-face learning and further traveling in terms of exchanges and degrees,’ he said.

Andrew Main Wilson, CEO, AMBA & BGA

Luiz Brito, Dean, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) EAESP, Brazil
Gustavo Genoni, Dean, Business School, Universidad de San Andrés, Argentina
Gastón Labadie, Dean, School of Management and Social Sciences, Universidad ORT Uruguay, Uruguay

This article is adapted from a feature that originally appeared in Ambition – the magazine of the Association of MBAs.


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