MIT-China Management Education Project celebrates 15 years

Published: May 2, 2011

This year the MIT-China Management Education Project celebrated its fifteenth year of international partnership. Established in 1996 to strengthen graduate management education in China, the program has graduated more than 3,400 men and women, many of whom have forged high profile international careers.

Partnering MIT Sloan with Tsinghua University in Beijing, Fudan University in Shanghai, Lingnan (University) College and Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, the project has grown tremendously in both size and scope since it was first conceived, and a key part of its success is that it provides invaluable learning opportunities for all those involved.

“The core mission, from our point of view, was to provide opportunities for MIT faculty, staff, and students to learn about China and Chinese-based economies,” says Senior Associate Dean Alan White, SF ’71. “This we could not do unless we developed a project that contributed to China, that engaged their attention, and that was important to them. We engaged in this project to contribute to China. This is how you, in turn, learn.”

Priorities: Faculty and curriculum
From the beginning, participants in the MIT-China Management Education Project regarded faculty development and curriculum design as their first priority. And rather than MIT Sloan faculty traveling to China to provide much of the instruction, the IFF model brings Chinese faculty to MIT Sloan, where they meet with faculty in their basic disciplines to talk about how to adapt MIT Sloan teaching materials to the Chinese environment. They attend seminars and MBA classes, introduce China-based problems into class discussions, and join teams of MBA students to complete assignments. In addition, some MIT Sloan faculty collaborate with their international colleagues by conducting faculty workshops in China and co-teaching classes with their IMBA counterparts.

“The experience has all been positive.,” says Xueqi Wei, IFF Fudan Fall ’10. “Back home I am the instructor. At MIT Sloan, I am a student. I sit in the classroom and interact with MBA students, and join their discussions. I learned a lot from the professors—how to organize effective class teaching and class discussion. I also learned a lot from the students through group projects. We play different roles, develop relationships, and learn from each other. Back in China, I will now encourage students to participate more. This is more important than telling them what is right and what is wrong.”

Real world impact
Another key component to the MIT-China Management Education Project is China Lab, which integrates for-credit classroom-based education, faculty mentoring, and real work for real impact. Launched in 2008, China Lab partners 12 four-person teams of Chinese and MIT Sloan students with a Chinese entrepreneurial firm for a three-month internship. Often tackling some of the company’s greatest challenges each team spends two weeks at the firm’s headquarters and is given invaluable, hands-on experience working inside one of the world’s most dynamic economies.

It allows MIT students to get experience they could not duplicate any other way, says Lecturer Jonathan Lehrich, MBA ’05. “They are making a real difference, working on real problems, developing real solutions, having real impact.”

Both students and companies benefit from the symbiotic relationship, and as interest in the project continues to grow year after year, it is clear these kinds of partnerships will only continue to enhance the quality of management education in both China and at MIT Sloan.

A bright future
Looking ahead, MIT Sloan plans to continue on this path in the next 15 years and the School’s leaders expect to gain much more benefit for the School in the years to come. Chinese IMBA graduates are now considered Affiliates of the MIT Alumni Association, and this network, combined with MIT alumni, is a powerful assembly. MIT faculty are conducting research in China and their colleagues in China are facilitating research projects for MIT faculty. MIT Sloan students participate in entrepreneurship projects in China with students from MIT Sloan’s Chinese partner schools, and the number of these projects continues to increase. Finally, the IMBA programs and MIT Sloan’s participation in China are gaining visibility around the world, a positive result for China, for MIT, and for China’s and the United States’ growing interdependence.