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05-06/2010 Fast search  

Real business education will never be out for sale
Alexander Morrigan

The world system of business education is going through an overhaul. Only recently did big and medium-sized companies organize regular corporate business training for their personnel and paid for it. Demand was the highest for МВА programs, training sessions and international internships. But as the current period of economic instability drags on, business owners are losing interest in improving the skills of their managers. VIP-Premier's guest, Dr. Alexander Morrigan, the Principal of the British Business Academy, a modern economic institution that seeks to create new forms and methodologies of top manager training, is sharing his views on present-day business education.

Alexander Frank Morrigan is the Principal of the British Business Academy. He was born in Bradford, England, in 1948, received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John's College of the University of Cambridge. In 1973, he moved to the United States of America, where he majored in banking law at Harvard, and defended a thesis on audit. Morrigan worked as a banking law and audit consultant for twenty years. He made economic expert statements on acquisitions, mergers and takeovers in the U.S., Europe, South America, and Asia. Morrigan is the author of books and textbooks on the theory and practice of banking law. He taught banking law at Harvard Business School, and gave lectures in U.S. and British universities. In 2005, Morrigan became the Principal of the British Business Academy that specializes in fundamental studies of current business processes and the training of managers.

– Mr. Morrigan, what are the current tendencies in business education in the present-day world?

– Statistics for the majority of European business schools and the main tendency are the declining demand for corporate training. Even the most competitive and stable companies have cut or completely frozen their training budgets and dismissed full-time trainers. The market of business education in the world is becoming tougher and more selective, if I may say so. As a result, many business schools have been put on the brink of bankruptcy, and hundreds of business consultants have lost their jobs. However we are talking about the market of business education for general purposes. Prestigious business schools that service mostly business owners and top executives are not experiencing economic or other problems. Real business education never was and never will be out for sale.


– You have visited Moscow several times to study economic opportunities for American investment funds which you were consulting and familiarize yourself with the system of business education. How do you see the present and the future of business education in Russia?

– The ten-year-old pattern used by business schools at Russian institutes and academies when the same teachers give lectures and have a schedule that requires them to be one place today and somewhere else tomorrow and then back, doing this over and over again, I think is quite doubtful. I don't want to upset anyone, so answer the following question yourself: do business schools in Russia have their own face? I mean, are educational products exclusive? Is there a system that brings top Russian business and government officials to these schools to speak? Who teaches MBA trainees in Russia: business practitioners who get seven-digit salaries or theoreticians, the authors of controversial textbooks who move from one business school to another using public transport?

I am not saying that all Russian business schools are like that, but most of them are. Only the strongest stay on the world market of business education today, those who offer project education, an exclusive theoretical product that has a practical value and created by successful entrepreneurs and real experts for each industry.

I understand that the topic of business education is of primary importance in Russia both for the economy and the system of government. Russia needs business leaders with a new mentality who are capable of modernizing the economy. I know that you have realized the ambitious idea of successful entrepreneurs and national leaders, and pooled efforts to create the business school Skolkovo where lectures are beginning to be given by foreign teachers who have a far-from-reality view on how business is done in Russia. Maybe this will help change the mentality of Russian managers and business owners in the future, but if not, the school graduates will end up in the category of managers “for internal use” and will not get involved in serious international projects.

– What do you think of the Russian business school ratings and the cost of education?

– I know that there are organizations in Russia that artificially create a competitive environment for business schools and make their ratings, and I am not surprised that these ratings differ so much.

British and American schools do not compete in terms of ratings, but exist in a strict hierarchy. Applicants compete for the right to study in these schools with their knowledge and financial possibilities. Each course or program is exclusive. The cost of a МВА, DBA or PhD course ranges from 20,000 to 100,000 pounds.

Prices and quality on the Russian market of business education are different. Russian business education is almost always offered in Russian and it is no older than ten years, while some schools in Great Britain and the USA have a century-old history and language diversity, and the MBA programs, which became popular in Russia at the turn of the century, appeared in the United States right after the Second World War when military people leaving the army needed a new profession.

– Does this mean that Russian business education cannot compete with that in Europe or America?

– Skolkovo aside, in terms of practical knowledge, no, it cannot! In terms of sales, paradoxical as it is, it can. The majority of managers in Russian companies cannot afford to live abroad too long or pay for training in foreign business schools where the average price of an MBA course starts from $20,000. This is why they choose the Russian business school that is near the office and charges from $10,000 to as much in euros for a couple of years of training. Our statistics show that of 100 people only two go to London or New York to study.

But it is these graduates who are sought by head hunters, they are the dream of shareholders and business owners, and it is they whom the personnel would want to have as their supervisors.


– The British Business Academy does not have an MBA program, but it has a DBA program. Tell us about the structure of the Academy and its activities. Does your Academy have any plans with regard to Russia?

– The British Business Academy’s work is based on research. The Academy publishes annual research reports that present its own methodologies and projects for international financial institutions and investment organizations to study. The Academy uses annual grants to develop research and educational activities and carry out international manager certification programs in management of an organization, corporate management, innovational management, banking law, and advertising technologies. The Academy offers distance learning in these specialties under DBA programs in English and French for top managers from European countries and in Russian for top managers from CIS countries. The programs include theoretical materials and practical cases in private and corporate business management. Every year the Academy awards the status of Honorary Member of the British Business Academy to the best ten managers of the world business community. We haven’t considered any plans for the British Business Academy’s activities in Russia so far. We have not opened any representative offices of the Academy or sold a franchise for our educational programs.

– Tell us about the rules of admission and training at the British Business Academy.

– If I name the cost of training, our interview will turn into an advertising campaign (smiles). Basically, starting this year, training in the Academy for people from European and CIS countries is subsidized from the grants provided by our partner – the European Economic Committee. The British Business Academy offers training in the following fields: “Management of an Organization”, “Corporate Management”, “Advertising Technologies” and “Banking Law”. The programs and cases have been completely adapted and translated into Russian. The form of learning is distance study which allows one to study and submit their homework assignments from any place in the world: it is not necessary to waste your time to get to a place of study, stealing it from your work, family and friends. All you need is a computer and the Internet. All students have access to the Academy’s electronic library available on our website. By the way, speaking of the absence of MBA programs in the Academy, I can say that the DBA program is three or four times as intensive in terms of material, books and study manuals. МВА simply doesn’t interest us.

– Speaking of doctoral studies at the British Business Academy, how can this level of education and its importance for personal development of the future doctors of business administration be classified?

– This is the most serious question. And like any question, it has its history. The history of learning is an endless history of personal development. The ability to be a student, absorb knowledge adequately, remember and use it is a gift that only a few have. But it is an even greater gift to be able to teach: to gather, classify and give knowledge in such a way that it would have an effect on one’s personal development. Each person is a unique individual with its own unique set of undeveloped qualities, and feeling and developing them is the first step towards professional success. Time for developing these qualities is not linked to age, and their scope is limited perhaps only by the existing system of education. The accepted models of a person’s mental development are only one of the elements that make up his qualities and answer questions like capable or incapable, prepared or unprepared, because the main personality evaluation criteria lie in the field of psychology.

In order to get a quality education, a person should be psychologically prepared and free of illusions that a diploma is more valuable than the knowledge given to him by the teachers he hires and pays to. Otherwise, money, and regrettably, time will be wasted. Getting an education is like buying a new car: if you are psychologically prepared for a BMW and you need speed and maximum comfort, you will hardly agree to anything else. If having a car is all that matters to you, then why overpay? Buy what you can operate. Speaking figuratively, the DBA of the British Business Academy in the classification of education for the prepared is the latest version of the BMW.

Interviewed by Vladislav BELONOGOV

Moscow, Petrovka str. 26 bld.2