In his latest post, Dean Dinwoodie raised a key issue for business school’s deans and managers that I hope he will allow me to summarize in a single question: What should be the right blend of faculty at business schools? The natural answer, implicit in his post, is: “it depends on the nature of each business school, whether it is oriented towards undergraduate education or executive offerings or postgraduate education”. However, if we consider an institution that covers different segments and type of programmes, the mentioned answer actually begs its question.
I was invited to speak at a recent conference on the future of the MBA organised by Dean Roger Martin at his school, the Rotman School of Management, in Toronto. The conference was attended by illustrious academics that included Chris Argyris, Michael Jensen, Bill McKelvey, Henry Mintzberg, James O’Toole and Jeffrey Pfeffer. One of the most recurrent topics discussed at the conference was the ideal composition of the faculty of business schools. In his presentation, O’Toole described the two polar profiles of faculty members, the academics versus the practitioners, using examples from his university. At the end of his presentation he formulated the question: which of the two polar types of faculty does a business school need most? The quick answer from the audience was: “both!”. Initially I was not entirely convinced by this answer: I found it too almost too evident and I was looking for some magical solution, something more complex and elaborated. However I concluded that business school deans have, first to assimilate that there is no such thing as a “pure and ideal” model of faculty, even with Solomonic qualities. As dean Dinwoodie point out, isn’t management a question of balancing?