Dean Daly Discusses Challenges Faced by B-School Deans

May 17, 2010 George Daly speaks at George Mason University

In March, George Daly, dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, delivered remarks about the current challenges that business school deans face during the investiture ceremony for the new dean of the George Mason University School of Management, Jorge Haddock.

In his talk, Daly discussed the balancing act that MBA programs must perform – straddling the academic and business worlds. Meanwhile, a new breed of MBA programs have emerged, and he says that they come with a business model that focuses less on preserving academic traditions and more on maximizing the value of their enterprises.

While traditional universities have an advantage in the areas of reputation, admission standards, and past achievements, Daly said that universities also bring competitive disadvantages, including fixed costs and longstanding rules typical of a traditional academic environment.

He said that business schools are vulnerable because they are followers and not leaders in technology advances in business; their cultures and practices mirror the greater university and not the business world; and the income generated by the schools often is used to fund other areas of their parent universities, limiting incentives within the schools themselves. “All of these things serve to undermine the ability of business schools to creatively and constructively respond to market signals,” he said.

Daly asked those in attendance to think back to the 2008 Super Bowl, which was played in the University of Phoenix stadium. “So why did a for-profit university buy the naming rights to a stadium in which their non-existent team will never play? Because they believed it an investment that will pay off. In particular, they are building a brand, a reputation, and they are doing it the way other businesses do it, not the way universities do,” he said.

He stated that a new era has begun in business education. “Many of our traditional practices—academic tenure, consensual decision making, the value of academic research—will, I believe, be put to the test. I’m not sure what will emerge from this process. But I’d be very surprised if it will closely resemble what we have had in the past.”

Afterward, Daly participated in a Symposium on Global Business Education with panelists Ian Carter, president of global operations for Hilton Worldwide; Richard Durand, dean of the American University Kogod School of Business, Dean Haddock; Walt Havenstein, chief executive officer of SAIC; and Susan Phillips, dean of The George Washington University School of Business.

Photo courtesy of Creative Services, George Mason University.