14 November 1986 - 16 November 1986

How Should Business Mangaers be Educated?

Chair: Sir Ian MacGregor

On the weekend 14-16 November, the Foundation had a conference on “How should business managers be educated?” Sir Ian MacGregor took the chair and gave a model display of conference management. The participation was perhaps a little too slanted towards business schools, but there were enough businessmen to prevent imbalance. The US and British teams were well matched in spread of interests and experience. There were two senior Japanese industrialists and heads of business schools from France, Germany and Canada.

There was a good deal of exploration of national differences and comparisons of fairly widely varying experience. The Japanese occupied a unique position, being acknowledged to be highly successful businessmen but having no business schools. They rely almost entirely on lifelong, in-house training for all levels of employees, the firm taking on some of the characteristics of a big school or family. Some Japanese executives are sent to business schools abroad, but these are not line-managers but accountants, lawyers and similar specialists. No other country can match the Japanese concepts of the manager as the key trainer and of training and continuous adaptation to change as one of the highest functions of business. The Japanese participants radiated confidence and success.

At the other end of the spectrum were the British, who tended to wring their hands and claim bottom-of-the-league status in managerial professionalism, in readiness to take management training seriously, in the practical relevance of existing management training courses and in the capacity of the general education system to produce young people with minds open to mathematics, science and technology as well as to the liberal arts (it was notable that the one subject which the Japanese said was indispensable in all school curricula was mathematics). The Americans tried to compete with the British in self-criticism but could not be wholly successful because openness to change is part of the American culture, and management education and business schools have become part of the American scene and have acquired a momentum of their own. The American problem was to find ways of being more relevant. Their message was that competition with Japan and the newly industrialised countries was the driving force. It was compelling American companies to move towards the Japanese concept of training as a never-ending commitment, involving the whole staff of a firm or corporation from top to bottom. Management training required different things at different career stages, business school courses and in-house training schemes, practical on-the-job experience and formal "education" being interleaved continuously.

The French and German participants were able to claim that they had systems which already took a middle way, the Germans through their Diplomkaufmann courses and their well-known addiction to post-graduate professional training which keeps most able young German men and women off the labour market until the ages of 26-28, and the French through their system of Grandes Ecoles which turns out an accomplished elite of top administrators to take charge of government, industry, banking and other key national activities. But the French and German systems were not probed in depth because of the conference's pre-occupation with Anglo-Saxon shortcomings.

There was a good deal of detailed discussion of the appropriateness of present business school organisation - is it too academic in orientation, but can it be otherwise when business schools are structured like, and close to, universities? Criteria for the selection of teachers and students, for the content of MBA degree courses, for the timing of them in individual careers, for shorter modular courses and custom-built courses for individual firms were examined and compared by the experts. There was some, but not much, discussion of the financing of management training: it was inhibited by the wide differences which exist in national patterns and attitudes. There appeared to be general acceptance that the mix of financing was variable and that no one method was necessarily better than others.

It became clear that, in the British case, discussion of management training led straight back to another subject, the structure of secondary education and the relation between it and first-degree courses at universities. There was also the wider question of national, cultural background. Britain has political and educational systems deeply rooted in the past which have escaped the rapid changes which can be induced by revolution or defeat in war. This gives Britain certain strengths which others do not have, but these do not seem at present to lie in the direction of modern business competition. The task of reform will have to embrace more than management training. On the other hand it is inconceivable that Japanese concepts of management training could thrive fully outside Japan. They owe a great deal to the uniquely homogeneous nature of the Japanese nation and its very specific political and social forms. The message at the end of the conference seemed to be that managers must see themselves as educators and trainers, that education and training must be given at all levels, to managers and managed alike, that adaptation to competition and change must be seen as the driving force, and that business training must have one foot well planted in the curricula of the national education system and the other in the structure of enterprises.

This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference.  No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression.

Conference Chairman: Sir Ian MacGregor
Partner, Lazard Freres & Co, New York; Director, Lazard Brothers & Co Ltd, London


Dr Michael Brock CBE

Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Oxford University; Member, Hebdomadal Council, Oxford University
Sir Alan Dawtry CBE
Retired as Chairman, Sperry Ltd (1977-86)
Mr Jerome Foster
Associate Dean for Executive Education, INSEAD (the European Institute of Business Administration), Fontainebleau
Mr Kenneth Graham OBE
Deputy General Secretary, Trades Union Congress (TUC); Member (part-time), Manpower Services Commission
Mr Geoffrey Holland CB
Second Permanent Secretary and Director, Manpower Services Commission (MSC); Member, Industrial Committee, Church of England Board of Social Responsibility
Mr Rob Hull
Assistant Secretary, Department of Education and Science, with policy responsibility for business and management education
Mr Uwe Kitzinger CBE
President, Templeton College, Oxford (Oxford Centre for Management Studies); Consultant to various national and international organisations; Member, Major Projects Association, Advisory Board, Pace University, New York, Berlin Science Centre
Mr Bruce Lloyd
Chairman, The Business Graduates Association Ltd
Professor Peter Moore TD
Professor of Statistics and Operational Research, and Principal, London Business School; President, Institute of Actuaries; Member, International Statistical Institute, Council, Actuarial Association, Industry and Employment Committee, Economic and Social Research Council, National Institute of Economic and Social Research
The Hon Mrs Sara Morrison
Director, General Electric Company, Abbey National Building Society, Imperial Group
Sir Leslie Porter
President, Tesco pic; Member, Court, Cranfield Institute of Technology; Chairman, Board of Governors, Tel Aviv University
Sir Michael Quinlan KCB
Permanent Secretary, Department of Employment; Governor, Henley Management College
Mr David Rowland
Chairman, Stewart Wrightson Holdings PLC; Chairman, Westminster Insurance Agencies; Director, Royal London Mutual Insurance Society, Project Fullemploy; Vice President, British Insurance Brokers Association; Chairman of Council, Templeton College; Member of Council, Industrial Society
Mr J Roxborough
Director, Foundation for Management Education
The Rt Hon Robert Sheldon MP
(Labour), Ashton-under-Lyme; Chairman, House of Commons Public Accounts Committee; Opposition Front Bench Spokesman on Civil Service and Machinery of Government; Director, Manchester Chamber of Commerce
Mr Tony Thomas
Business Editor, The Economist
Maj-Gen Stuart Watson
Deputy Director General, Institute of Directors; Colonel, 13th/18th Royal Hussars

Mr Alan B Hockin

Dean, Faculty of Administrative Studies, York University, Ontario; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Value Investment Corporation

Dr B le Blanc

Director, European School of Management Studies, Paris

Professor Dr Peter Eichhorn

Professor of Business and Public Management, University of Mannheim; President, Federal Association of German Academies of Public and Business Administration, Cologne

Mr Yoshio Arakawa

Director and Member of the Board, Public Relations and Business Research, Nissan Motor Co Ltd, Tokyo
Mr Sueaki Takabatake
Managing Director, Toshiba International Company Ltd, London

Professor Faneuil Adams Jr

Visiting Professor, Columbia Business School
Mr James F Bolt
President and Founder, Executive Development Associates (EDA)(Consultants)
Mr Richard Boyatzis
President and Chief Executive Officer, McBer and Company (has conducted research and consulted in areas of organisation and management development for a variety of industrial and government clients)
Dr Nancy L Jaco
Professor of Finance and Business Economics and Dean, School and Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Washington, Seattle; Director, Puget Sound Power and Light Company; formerly Chairperson, Department of Finance, Business Economics and Quantitative Methods, University of Washington
Professor Josephine E Olson
Associate Professor of Business Administration and of Economics, Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Mr Anthony J Paris
Active Management Software, New York
Dr Linda B Salamon
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, and Associate Professor of English, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri
Mr Stephen I Schlossberg
Deputy Under Secretary for Labor-Management Relations, Department of Labor, Washington, DC
Dr Joel Segall
President, Baruch College (City University of New York)
Professor Eli Shapiro
Alfred P Sloan Emeritus Professor of Management, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Mr Robert Sohl
Director, Xerox International Center for Training and Management Development, Leesburg, Virginia; Member, National Issues Committee of the American Society for Training and Development
Professor Howard H Stevenson
Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration, Graduate School of Business, Harvard University
Mr Hans A Wolf
Vice Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer, Syntex Corporation, Palo Alto, California