December 3, 2023

A New Business Worldview

No more. Whatever one thinks of rankings, the fact remains: top-10 lists may now have as many non-American as American business schools. European M.B.A. programs, in particular, are drawing expanding ranks of high-powered students. In the last decade, their English-language programs, created with the explicit hope of luring foreign students, have flourished.

While the United States remains “at the top of the list where more students want to go,” says Jerry E. Trapnell, executive vice president at AACSB International, the accrediting organization, “we used to be completely dominant — we no longer are.”

Some ambitious foreign students who once might have studied in the United States have been deterred by a faltering American job market, and the worry that at the conclusion of their degree program they will find themselves obliged to leave the country, unable to obtain a work permit. But perhaps most relevant to Europe’s growing popularity is the impact of globalization and the exploding interest in international business.

The educational content of many European programs differs distinctly from the American standard. Until quite recently, most American schools focused all but exclusively on American businesses, American business law and American business culture. European schools have made names for themselves as expressly international institutions — in their curriculums, in the composition of their student bodies, in the relationships they cultivate with companies and entrepreneurs.

A decade ago, Yuko Arii, a 34-year-old entrepreneur from Tokyo with an easy laugh and flawless English, might well have studied business in Cambridge, Mass., or Hanover, N.H. But an American M.B.A. never crossed her mind, she says. Her aspiration “has always been to bring Japanese companies overseas,” and she felt that a European school would offer better guidance in accessing markets across the world. Ms. Arii opted to pursue an M.B.A. at the European Institute of Business Administration, or Insead, which has boldly trademarked the phrase “The Business School for the World.”

Tucked in the woods of the chateau town of Fontainebleau, not far from Paris, Insead was founded in 1957 as a sort of Harvard Business School for Europe as the Continent emerged from the ravages of the Second World War and began to create what is now the European Union. Incoming students were originally required to speak French, English and German, with courses taught in each; since the 1990s, classes have been conducted only in English, though students must speak at least one other language to enter the M.B.A. program, and to graduate must learn a third “commercially useful” language — say, French, Spanish, Mandarin or Russian.

Less than a mile from the 12th-century Château de Fontainebleau, the small campus is spotted with airy modern structures; many students come with spouses and children, and the school offers no long-term housing on campus. Services are limited to a library, bookshop, fitness center, and cafe and bar. (Students and administrators are fond of pointing out that M.B.A. participants come to study, not to play Frisbee or party.)

Only 20 percent of Insead students are native English speakers; this year, in keeping with the recent trend, no one nationality represents more than 10 percent of the student body. In contrast, even at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz., with an international business M.B.A. that is often ranked best in the world, more than half the student body is American.

There is an “American type of international,” Ms. Arii says, and there is Europe.

Scott Sayare reports from Paris for The Times; Steven Erlanger is Paris bureau chief.

Article source:

Speak Your Mind