MANAGING KNOWLEDGE

MBA (Master of Business Administration) programs are widespread all over the world but there is no unified standard of such programs yet. Correspondent of BG Vlada Gasnikova studied the educational programs provided for managers in St. Petersburg.
The first prototypes of contemporary MBA programs appeared in the US at the end of the 19th century when companies needed specialists who had knowledge of scientific approach to management. In the middle of the last century, the first MBA programs appeared in Europe too. In Russia, active launch of MBA programs coincided with the beginning of the 21st century.
Until recently, MBA programs all over the world had predominantly generalist nature ("general management") and had no functional or industry specialty. However, in the last few years demand has been shifting towards specialized MBA programs. According to observations of specialists, the most popular are programs for development of leadership qualities, MBA in marketing, finance, IT and logistic.
According to ratings of EdUniversal and Izvestia newspaper for 2011, Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg University (GSOM) was named business school number one in Russia. At present, GSOM offers a two-year program of business administration to its students that includes 16 obligatory disciplines from the fields of strategic and functional management of organization, three modules of disciplines to choose from as specialty (strategic management of resources; management of knowledge; enterprise and innovations; management of projects; consumer-oriented marketing; corporate governance and value-oriented marketing), strategic business games, training in conduction of negotiations in a team, one-week educational modules in business schools of Europe, Asia and US.
Five programs of MBA/EMBA level are represented in International Management Institute St. Petersburg (IMISP) this academic year: "Executive MBA Strategy," "МВА Practice of Successful Management," "МВА Financial Director," "МВА Project Management" and "МВА of Extracting Industries."
The program with "executive" prefix is created for an audience of certain status and experience involved into making of investment-intensive decisions that have long-term consequences for business. Dmitry Pavlov, external relations and MBA programs director of IMISP, says, "The program has strategic specialty. Many things of what is said in the classroom can be attributed to exclusive management technologies that mature, experienced and established businessmen and managers need. This program has more of chamber aspect, individuality and discussion." The other four programs are addressed to the classic MBA audience: managers of 27-35 years old who have come for systematization of knowledge obtained by practical way and oriented at abrupt acceleration or changing of the career. Pavlov explains, "These programs are differentiated by functional and industry connection."
Higher Economics School of St. Petersburg State University of Economics (HES) offers Executive MBA program "Management of an enterprise" to its students that trains a general manager improving his knowledge in economic theory, accounting, theory of management, statistics, marketing matters of financial literacy, legal field, area of social responsibility of business, management of human resources and production systems. The program includes the following kinds of specialties: "Company management," "Corporate marketing, "Company finance," "Management of human resources" and "Project management."
Stockholm School of Economics Russia offers EMBA General Management and EMBA General Management programs with simultaneous interpretation into the Russian language. It is possible to combine learning with work: it is done in the modular format and lasts for two years. The program is divided into 15 modules of five days each (from Wednesday until Sunday) and frequency of the modules is once in four to six weeks. Anna Izmailova, head of marking of Stockholm School of Economic Russia, explains, "In summer and winter we have vacations like a classic educational institution. From the standpoint of territory, classes take place in Moscow and St. Petersburg and in every program we have foreign modules in Sweden, China, Italy and Latvia." According to her, the main goal of participants of МВА programs is not only obtaining of academic knowledge but also learning of practical methods of running business.
"Business Academy" program has existed in Ernst & Young (EY) company for seven years. It includes five modules: strategy, risk management, finance, management of efficiency of activity and increasing of personal efficiency. In the corporate format EY is often requested to add modules for management of teams, presentation skills and coaching.
EY offers mini MBA to students: in the open version (not according to an order of a certain company) programs last for five days and consist of 40 hours of intensive training in interactive format. During this time managers are taught in a concise form to choose an efficient strategy, risk management, their personal and team efficiency is improved and they are given answers to the questions how to increase business value. In the version with corporate education according to an order of a certain company the timeframe and the place of learning may vary depending on customer's wish.
IMISP also offers programs for managers of separate companies: there are corporate MBA programs, for example, MBA "Gazprom Dobycha Noyabrsk" or "corporate-industry ones, for example, MBA "Yamal." Pavlov says, "In such programs employees of several companies, as a rule, from one industry or close to each other geographically gather in one group. Companies pool organizational efforts to form a collective group and optimize educational budgets."
Gazprom Neft develops its own corporate academy of management for managers. The academy represents five modular programs aimed at sequential development of competences in the field of personal efficiency, communications, leadership, organizational changes, innovative thinking and business management. The press service of the company reports, "For lecturers and practical classes the company hires the leading lecturers, business coaches and practitioners. The key difference of the corporate academy of management from the programs offered by external educational institutions is its integration with business processes of the company and aiming at fulfillment of certain practical tasks that are encountered by managers who work in the oil and gas sector."
Time and money
Traditional МВА/EMBA programs taught in classic educational institutions last for 18-24 months and cost from 700,000 to 1.5 million rubles. Costs of participation in an open five-day program of EY depend on the city in which it is organized and vary from 60,000 to 85,000 rubles per one participant.
If this is not corporate education not everyone will be able to enter MBA program in educational institutions. This should be a manager with experience of work of not less than three years who has higher education, has written a motivation essay, has passed an entry managerial test, has passed an entry interview, has received two recommendations from other managers, has paid for education and has brought a reference letter from his boss (if there is such) that proves a temporary possibility to study in the framework of the program. Depending on the place of studying, the list of requirements may be narrowed a little but it is necessary to prove that you not only can pay for education but also have time for participation in the program everywhere.
An average age of participants of MBA programs in various educational institutions is 35 years old and an average age of Executive МВА students is 37-40 years old. Among the students of MBA program of IMISP majority are hired managers and in ЕМВА program up to 80% are owners and investors of businesses of different sizes.
In the English-language program of Stockholm School of Economics Russia 85% of students are hired employees and 15% are business owners. In the program with simultaneous interpretation into the Russian language the ratio is different: 60% work for the boss and 40% have their own business.
In mini МВА programs of EY business owners constitute 5% of all students. GSOM has calculated that quantity of women among its MBA students is 50% smaller than quantity of men (32% and 68% respectively). Managers from petrochemical industry, machine building, restaurant business, construction sector, financial sector, telecommunication business, trading sector and transport companies come to study in the framework of MBA programs.
Managers at the lecturing desk
Pavlov from IMISP says, "It is not appropriate to compare МВА programs with the first higher education. МВА is for mature audience that has practical business experience. An experienced lecturer appeals to this experience, so different for the students who have gathered in the classroom, and supplements the discussion with his own summing up, theoretical ideas and shapes it into a streamlined systemic picture. MBA has different pedagogical methods, different composition and charge of the audience. Everything is different."
Olga Bulatova, partner of EY, explains that the main requirement to MBA lecturers is their personal successful practical experience in the field where they teach, as well as managerial experience confirmed also by international certifications and qualifications. Bulatova explains, "Knowledge of the methodology of organization of education according to case study method, knowledge of skill of teaching adults, facilitations and teaching in the coaching style are the key factors of success in conduction of mini MBA program."
Izmailova from Stockholm School of Economics Russia adds requirement of experience of teaching and research activity to work in business.
Pavlov explains that in IMISP all lecturers have practical and consulting experience. Pavlov says proudly, "85% came to teaching from business. An average age is 45-50 years old. Criterion of quality is evaluation of lecturers by students in the classroom. An average integrated final score given by MBA students to lecturers has amounted to about 4.7 according to the five-point scale in our school for many years."
Effect of the gown
Taking into account the high costs of learning in MBA programs and moreover so the time spent on lessons (managers catastrophically lack time), there rises a question about payback of investments in education.
Bulatova from EY says, "There are different approaches to evaluation of efficiency of knowledge in various companies, we see the situations when companies evaluate return on investments in this aspect very seldom. This is mostly evaluation according to the first three levels of Kirkpatrick (she means the four-level training evaluation model of Donald Kirkpatrick, the first three levels being reaction, learning and behavior."
According to Pavlov, investments in МВА pay back in three years. The representative of IMISP states, "Up to 30% of graduates receive an expected abrupt acceleration of the career in the first months after its completion and reach a fundamentally new level of alary, status and prospects. For others this does not happen so rapidly (this I explained, first of all, by their own choice, approach and vision of career) but this or that growth of incomes happens for an absolute majority of graduates."
This very criterion and related parameters of "practical application of knowledge" are the foundations for evaluation of value of MBA education all over the world. In the Western society where information about changing of incomes of graduates is open and is summarized ratings of educational programs and business schools are composed on the basis of this first of all.

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