Leadership management training new demands for business schoolsIncreasingly business are placing new demands on providers of leadership management training.

How can Business Schools respond to requests for a more demand-led approach to leadership management training? A good place to start to answer that question is to review the emerging literature which assesses business demands and academic responses to the tensions a more demand-led provision creates.

The growing body of literature helps to frame the challenge for business schools. The literature characterises the differences between a supply-led or more traditional approach to a demand-led engaged emphasis. Much of the literature highlights the challenges that would be involved moving from a traditional approach towards a demand-led approach.

Yet at the same time the contrast between traditional and engaged approaches also strongly points to the benefits of an engaged, demand-led, leadership management training provision at business schools

Leadership Management Training from Supply to Demand-led Business School Provision

The table provides a summary of the challenges of a more engaged approach, and tries to capture what is meant by a demand-led approach to leadership management training.


Traditional Business engagement Challenging Thoughts
Supply-led Demand-led Demand based on need – Only makes sense when organisational need is addressed (Hogarth & Wilson, 2003), Engagement is most effective at the individual workplace (Brennan & Little, 2006) (Leitch, 2006)
Individual student enrolment Client relationship management Right kinds of personal relationships in place (Connor & Hirsh, 2008). Growing need for academic staff to act as consultants.  (Nixon, Smith, Stafford, & Camm, 2006). (Beeby & Jones, 1997) (King, 2007)
On-campus, delivery that suits the University Wherever  the client prefers – delivery that suites the company (King, 2007)
Standard offering –based on what Universities have “got” Client-specific and customised – Based on what is needed “Real customer focus in terms of tailoring provision, not just re-badging of modules which have been taught before.”  (King, 2007) (Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership, 2001) (Beeby & Jones, 1997) Prince and Stewart (2000)
Narrow discipline-specific focus Cross-functional, problem oriented direction Academic staff who have insight and experience of the business world (Connor, 2007) (Lorange, 2005)
One way teaching mode Two way interactive learning – faculty learning from good students (Lorange, 2005)
Students More like participants (Lorange, 2005)
Teach/lecture Less lecturing more facilitation (Gosling & Mintzberg, 2006)
Knowledge creators Co-creators of knowledge through collaboration “There is little evidence that research emanating from business schools has had any significant impact upon management practice.” (Starkey and Tempest) (Starkey & Tempest, 2000)
Knowledge producer and dissemination Co-knowledge production and dissemination (Starkey & Tempest, 2000)
Subject and functional experts Functional experts and experts in how managers learn Business Schools need to become experts in their core activity – management learning (CEML) (Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership, 2001) (Gosling & Mintzberg, 2006)


The Challenges for Business Schools to Deliver Demand-led Leadership Management Training

It raises some quite significant challenges for Business Schools if they are to engage effectively with this business agenda for leadership management training. For example there is a need for change in the:

  • Relationships with customers, involved in meeting client needs and not just student or delegate needs.
  • Way staff interact with delegates from client organizations, with new ways of working and broader approaches to teaching,
  • Place of knowledge and its development recognising that knowledge is also produced in the workplace.
  • Kind of provision, pointing clearly away from a supply-led approach of giving what the University as the ‘expert’ knows is needed, to changes to recognize a partnering approach, or engaging with understanding needs, recognizing expertise outside of the university, and a sharing of expertise.

Without doubt a demand-led approach to leadership management training is a challenge for business schools, but it is also clearly a significant opportunity. How can business schools balance being close enough to business to be listening and responsive, yet distanced enough to provide a critical challenge?

It raises the question: “how do you serve the professional community without becoming a servant to, and domainted by, this community?” (Cotton, McKenna, Van Auken & Meuter,2001)

What next for Demand-led Leadership Management Training?

You can find out more about our approach to supporting business schools to build engaged approaches to business in our article Business Management Education: Making it Work where we explain our purposeful engagement model.

To return to the debate on business and business school click here: Academia into action

Why not contact us to discuss how we might be able to work with you to improve business engagement: You can get in touch here: contact us.

Works Cited

Beeby, M., & Jones, W. (1997). Business schools and corporate development. Journal of Management Development, 484-493.

Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership. (2001). The contribution of the UK Business Schools to developing managers and leaders . Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership.

Gosling, J., & Mintzberg, H. (2006). Management Education as if Both Matter. Management Learning, 419-428.

King, M. (2007). Workforce Development. Employer engagement with Higher education. London: The Council for Industry and Higher Education.

Leitch, S. (2006). Prosperity for all in the global economy – world class skills. Norwich: The Stationery Office.

Lorange, P. (2005). Strategy means choice: also for today’s business school! Journal of Management Development, 783-790.

Prince, C., & Stewart, J. (2000). The dynamics of the corporate eductaion market and the role of business schools. Jornal of Management Development, Vol. 19(No. 3), 207-219.

Starkey, K., & Tempest, S. (2000). The World Class Business School – a UK perspective. London: Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership.