MIT Sloan and Chinese management schools mark 10 years of collaboration

Events set at Shanghai's Fudan University and Beijing's Tsinghua University to celebrate management education program

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neil Hartman, one of the many MIT Sloan faculty members who have taught as part of the MIT-China Management Education Project Photo: Senior Lecturer Neil Hartman (top) is one of the many MIT Sloan faculty members who have taught as part of the MIT-China Management Education Project.

A series of July events in Beijing and Shanghai will mark the tenth anniversary of a unique collaboration between the MIT Sloan School of Management and China's leading business schools. This exemplary academic collaboration has already seen more than 150 Chinese management faculty go to MIT Sloan's Cambridge campus to learn skills and techniques they can use to help train new executives needed for China's red-hot economy.

The anniversary of the MIT-China Management Education Project, which also sends MIT Sloan MBAs to China, will be marked by seminars, celebrations, and other activities at Fudan University in Shanghai from July 7-9 and at Beijing's Tsinghua University from July 14-15.

A working model

“Although Chinese universities have offered the MBA since 1991, we had no real model for MBA education until the Management Education Program” was launched in 1996, says Zhao Chunjun, former dean of Tsinghua University and current vice chairman of China's National MBA Education Supervisory Committee. “China needed help in several areas, especially curriculum development and faculty development. The MIT model of management education has provided us with the capacity to build both quality international MBA and regular MBA programs. We now plan to take that model and expand it to other management schools in China.”

Rather than the traditional approach of sending western professors to teach in China, the premise of the MIT Sloan program is that China is best served by developing the skills of Chinese faculty to teach Chinese students in China.

“From the start, this program has been about building indigenous capacity,” says MIT Sloan Dean Richard Schmalensee. “It is the right model for China, and we think it is making a difference for them.”

Faculty from important universities in four distinct regions of China — Fudan in Shanghai, Tsinghua in Beijing, Sun-Yat Sen (Lingnan College) in Guandong, and Yunnan in Yunnan — spend a semester at MIT Sloan, attending regular MBA classes and working one-on-one with MIT Sloan faculty members who serve as mentors.

In the process, they improve not only their English (when they return to China, they teach their classes in English), but also their knowledge of management issues, curricula, and teaching techniques.

Extending education beyond borders

“The program has turned out even better than we expected ten years ago,” says former MIT Sloan Dean Lester Thurow, during whose tenure the program began. “Initially, for example, we worried that the Chinese universities would send more senior faculty members, but they have instead sent younger people who are going to be around for a number of years. Another positive surprise has been that virtually every MIT Sloan faculty has been willing to serve as a host, which means that they and our students in Cambridge clearly feel they are getting some real benefits as well.”

As part of the program, teams of MIT Sloan MBA students travel to China, working with and learning from students and faculty there.

The program's benefits to Chinese management education now extend beyond the four universities, says Zhao.

”Not only is our program graduating quality students who find good employment with good salaries, but the MIT model has provided us with the capacity to build quality IMBA and regular MBA programs, We have nationalized MBA education, where we teach core subjects much the same as they are taught at MIT.”

Powerful lessons, good will

MIT Sloan Associate Dean Alan White Photo: MIT Sloan Senior Associate Dean Alan White, who oversees MIT Sloan's international activities, has been instrumental in building the program.

MIT Sloan Senior Associate Dean Alan White, who oversees MIT Sloan's international activities, says the China program “represents a new model for the way international collaboration should work, one that was heavily influenced by my time years ago in the Peace Corps, where I learned the powerful lesson that those who go, learn.”

But Chinese faculty who go to Cambridge are not the sole the beneficiaries of the China Management Education Project, notes White.

“There are now more than 1,500 outstanding graduates of IMBA programs in China who identify with MIT Sloan and whom we consider affiliate alumni,” he says. “We have had a major impact on business education in China, and that has brought this institution and this nation visibility and good will.”

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