I read with keen interest the nuanced report on the competitive landscape of executive education and business schools.

The themes discussed resonate with my doctoral research on leadership development within the retail banking sector. The research also points to the need for a nuanced perspective — one that appreciates the industry structure of business schools and their clients, as well as how they are embedded in the post-apartheid skills development "architecture" and "ecology".

To understand business schools’ purpose and client relationships, including the question of integrating "consultancy" engagement and expertise, one needs to explore more broadly the design, integration and management of executive, leadership and management education and development across stakeholders.

"Design thinking" has become topical within organisations and management thinking. However, we need to broaden our understanding beyond a cognitive or problem-solving process, especially when thinking through the need for "co-design" and "co-creation" between business schools and client organisations. It is more than a meeting of heads or defined collaborative space.

We also need to be cautious of generalising and applying too early and mechanically Clayton Christensen’s concept of disruptive innovation ("disruption") to education and development, the business school industry and client industries. We need to attend to the context, industries and companies Christensen’s research is based on, and his discussion on modularity and integration.

This returns us to the discussion on the post-apartheid skills development "architecture" and "ecology". I would suggest that our task in post-apartheid SA is to build our industries’ "ecosystems", institutions and capabilities. This does not mean inhibiting innovation or disregarding how technology and its role is evolving (including the discussion on the fourth industrial revolution).

Ajay JivanMidrand

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