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Innovation put at core of school's global business education

AS the 6th International Business School Conference was held in Shanghai this week with the theme of “Technology and Management,” Stuart Hyde, Professor of Finance, Postgraduate Research Director, and Deputy Head of Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS), talked to Shanghai Daily and demonstrated how the school has been doing business education globally with its innovative core values.

Q:With “Technology and Management” the theme of the conference you are going to attend, how does Alliance MBS foster the interaction between technology and management education?

A:In recent years, we have seen a lot of developments and revolutions in communication, management strategies of enterprises, digital technology and particularly new media. We know that scientific and technological developments inevitably lead to innovations in both theory and practice in management, and hopefully changing management practices could also foster future scientific and technological developments.

In the school we see it incredibly important. So at Alliance Manchester Business School we offer a blended learning approach, particularly across our Global Part-time MBA. We have world-class dynamic face-to-face teaching in residential workshops, and then it’s complemented by online activity to enrich the learning experience. This means that anybody engaged in the education only need to use short time out of the office to attend face-to-face classes and they can take the rest of study around their work, leading minimum disruption in terms of career.

Within the program, we try to get a good balance between self-study and practical learning with global colleagues and academics. A typical semester will include three face-to-face workshops, delivered at one of our centers worldwide. Alongside this, students will attend online tutorial sessions, study online in a dedicated e-learning environment, and participate in forum discussions with tutors and colleagues.

In terms of the researches within the school, we embed all of the research into our teaching. One of the key examples is the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research. They focus on anything that links to new technologies, including research that looks at areas of understanding the dynamics of new and emerging technologies, governance and responsible innovation, responsible management of organizations, and innovation management and competitiveness.

Similarly at the moment, we have a number of projects and research focusing around big data or new data. The idea is that it is now possible to obtain huge data sets , which could be anything from probably data sets on medical records of thousands of thousands of individuals to data sets on traffic which involves thousands of thousands of millions of observations of traffic flow monitors and price data and traits in the financial world. So a number of my colleagues in the school are looking at sensible decision-making models, how to model and take influence from all those social type of data to some practical solutions to real world.

Q: Recent years have witnessed revolutions in communication, management strategies and digital technology. With the global phenomenon, what kind of innovation could we expect from Alliance Manchester Business School to pioneer in management theory and practice?

A:Research at Alliance Manchester Business School is shaped and inspired by our internationally renowned expertise. Our academics generate collaborative research across different disciplines, industries and specialisms. The breadth of research spans over four disciplines. Our People, Management and Organizations division experts lead the way in progressive HR management and organizational research trends and the members of our Innovation Management and Policy (IMP) division pioneer influential research on public and private strategy and policy. Our IMP division also houses the University's Manchester Institute of Innovation Research. Within the Accounting and Finance division, our thought-leaders are highly-creative experts, who see to influence of both the practical elements of what happens in terms of governance of finance, but also the accounting side with policy and debates around about financing initiatives and something like that. The final group is the Management Science and Marketing division and our academics also seek to undertake research which has global influence.

In 2014, the Business School received a landmark donation from Lord Alliance of Manchester and his fellow Trustees of the Alliance Family Foundation. This donation is now supporting our commitment to leading global research, through 20 research projects that will pioneer management theory and practice.

There are initiatives exploring business and human rights; the Northern Powerhouse and Manchester City Region; globalization and responsible production and employment; and work and employment in the North West. In addition, The Big Data Forum – a network of excellence in business big data analytics was launched.

And most recently, we established a new Health Services Research Centre at the end of 2015. Its members have a focus on the study of health services organization, management and leadership, research implementation and policy.

The new research areas are driven by what we observe as a need by business and industry, and also when you have foresight to think about what the future challenge is going to be.

Q: As China’s economy is booming, there is an increasing demand in China for business education for career development. In terms of localization strategy, what is the next step of Alliance Manchester Business School to drive in-depth collaborations with local organizations and institutions?

A:We have strong relationships in China. In 2008, we established our China Centre in Shanghai which was the 5th international center of Alliance Manchester Business School.  In 2009, a strategic partnership between Tong Ji University and Alliance MBS was formed to launch TongJi-Manchester Global MBA. In 2011, we formed partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong University. This has allowed the School to bring the legacy of its highly ranked DBA programme to China and offer a joint equivalent with a top Chinese university. In 2015, we launched a new part-time MBA programme with School of Business, Renmin University of China in Beijing.

Through these partnerships, we are very committed to delivery of high-quality business and management education in China. I think particularly these partnerships demonstrate our commitment to bridging Chinese and British education, and over the future we will be able to strengthen these relationships further.

We are also looking forward to further opportunities for collaboration with our corporate partners in the region, through our Talent Management Partnerships and the delivery of our suite of executive education products through the China Centre in the future.

Q: The China Centre has been officially renamed as The University of Manchester (UoM) China Centre since 25th September. Could you explain to us how this transformation demonstrate UoM’s long-term plan for China? What is the strength of China Centre that could bring to China in the long term?

A: The change just came out in support of the University’s overall Internationalization Strategy and building upon the success of Manchester Business School Worldwide.

Although it is early days, we are exploring how the Centre will act as a platform for our growing portfolio of distance and blended-learning programmes and how its remit might be extended to encompass additional alumni and business engagement activities.

So the name change is an opportunity to strengthen the portfolio further and widen the range of activities we offer.

The University is dedicated to providing high quality and leading education services in China. I’m sure these developments will ensure prospective and current students will have even better access to a wider selection of courses, while partners and alumni will have stronger, closer ties with both the School and the University as a whole.

As an early adopter of transnational education through all our global centers, Alliance Manchester Business School has forged strong global partnerships with corporates and high profile educational partners. The University will build upon these links as it continues to grow its international footprint.

Q: Along with the rapid progress and continuing capitalization of companies, finance professionals are much more than chief accountants. While handling financial affairs, what kind of management role are they expected to take within the organization?

A: With the requirement for organizations to be flexible and agile to be able to compete and adapt to changing environment, most organizations expect their managers to be able to do likewise. So finance professionals now can no longer really rely on the training in one particular area and focus on just being accountants. They need to be able to show and develop a whole range of different skills.

So the key thing here is that these finance professionals need a broader understanding of management and management education. They need to be able to demonstrate that flexibility and agility to changing environment. Through things like a global MBA can provide a unique opportunity for professionals to further their education and learn the techniques and skills that are required to face changing business environment. And similarly, the MBA education can also provide a platform by which senior professionals can continue to develop their concepts and skills key to their organizations and can demonstrate they are able to shift and move with the changing business environment.

The thing is for everyone. In order to stay at the top of their game, they need to continue to develop as professionals. And clearly in one stage in your career, pursing an MBA broadening your management education base is really a useful thing to do.

Q: In recent years, we have seen many Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOE) going overseas pursuing assets and taking merger and acquisitions. What do you think of this phenomenon?

A: Clearly in terms of state-owned enterprises within China, there has been a series of reforms adopted to try and facilitate the growth and expansion of these companies, particularly within the Shanghai region. The companies based here are really at the forefront of these changes, more so than elsewhere in China.  If you think about the categorization in terms of competitive function of public SOEs, then the real thing is how those competitive SOEs improve themselves.

Naturally for any company which develops large within the domestic market and has difficulty in expanding in order to continue to grow and strengthen often look overseas. And therefore that would either be in terms of direct investment from the firm itself or through merges and acquisitions. - The key strength in engaging in mergers and acquisitions is the speed which that can be done rather than  organic growth in setting up your own facilities. But also, by acquiring the companies, you can learn through their management structures and their actual practices and with that on board to develop your own strategies and your own ways of working.

So that the key thing for the strength and future growth of the Chinese SOEs would be how they find the balance in terms of growth, market-driven forces to some extent, balance that with other requirements.


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