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Measuring the Impact of Business Schools: A Focus on Society

29.04.2020Comments are closed.

Business schools have a big impact on the society as a whole, not only in shaping the business sphere, but they are also responsible for instilling values for a resilient society that go beyond the profit-maximising logic. SEB LU’s mission to build competencies for socially responsible management to master business and economic challenges guides the school toward educating responsible individuals who will make a difference and have a positive impact on the whole society. SEB LU’s coordinators for EQUIS and BSIS talk about the significance of creating that impact, as well as the efforts to capture and follow that impact.

Dr Darija Aleksić

Assistant Professor, Academic Unit for Management and Organisation, EQUIS Coordinator

Marjan Smonig

Secretariat with Management Team, BSIS Coordinator

What is your inspiration as being a part of SEB LU’s community?

Darija: I have been part of the SEB LU’s community for more than 15 years; first as a student and now as an employee. Numerous possibilities for personal and professional growth and SEB LU’s unique culture of continuous improvement has been my inspiration from day one. SEB LU strives to achieve high standards in teaching and research, and, more importantly, we are fuelled by the desire to create added value for our students, faculty, business partners, and society. This is quite a challenging task in today’s dynamic environment, but it is also a great source of motivation that drives our work.

Marjan: I find my inspiration in every day, and am fascinated by my daily relationships at SEB LU, marked by openness, creativity, energy, and ambition. It is so good to see our younger colleagues being active as teachers and in other roles all around the globe, from California to New Zealand, and it is so inspiring to see our more senior colleagues, still being role-models in using new technologies in the transition of the school to blended teaching.

SEB LU jointly undertook two significant processes sponsored by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), the EQUIS re-accreditation, and the Business School Impact System (BSIS) process. Both help schools to assess their strengths, weaknesses, and their impact. What are the main differences and similarities between the EQUIS accreditation and the BSIS?

Darija: I would say that these two accreditations have related, yet slightly different philosophies. In my opinion, EQUIS is more process- and BSIS more outcome-oriented. EQUIS accreditation requires the school to judge the overall effectiveness of its own processes. Specifically, this selfevaluation process, required by EQUIS, stimulates the school to gain a clearer understanding of its strategic position by assessing its strengths and weaknesses, by measuring the principal constraints and opportunities determined by its environment, and by looking realistically at the coherence between its ambitions and its resources. In contrast, BSIS is a data-driven system that encourages the school to identify the tangible and intangible benefits that schools bring to the local environment. Thereby, the BSIS philosophy also encourages the school to evaluate its processes from a broader perspective.

Marjan: …and from the perspective of   the mission and vision of the school: BSIS evaluates whether the outputs and outcomes, such as employable graduates, impactful research, contributions to the development of business and the wider community, are in line with the school’s mission and vision. The EQUIS accreditation is in many cases the vehicle and final proof of the international recognition of the quality of the school which is achievable by only small number of the business schools (180 of approximately 16.000). BSIS, on the other hand, is the “Key Tool for Measuring Business School’s Impact on the World Around It”, aimed for measuring how well the business school was achieving its mission and role within the society. And, it is probably not an overstatement that every school should be interested in knowing this. In general, it could be said that business schools report mostly on inputs and processes, but in most of the cases, very little data is included on the outputs, outcomes, and impacts. As the impact also became very important standard of the international accreditations, getting the BSIS label can be a valuable step towards international recognition of the school.

What, in your opinion, significantly signals a business school’s impact? What, would you say, are those signals in the case of SEB LU?

Darija: In my opinion, the quality of interactions with all stakeholders (i.e. students, employees, alumni, business partners, and society), the ability to drive changes, being internationally recognised, and providing meaningful services for the stakeholders are the most important indicators of a business school’s impact. Since its beginning, SEB LU has provided a powerful driver for the economy, our graduates are employed in leading national and international companies, we are the only internationally triple accredited school in Slovenia, our faculty members are important opinion-makers, and they contribute to building awareness and actions towards sustainable development.

Marjan:  Regarding the signals, we should also take a look at the case of SEB LU. Within the BSIS report some remarkable features of the SEB LU impact have been highlighted by external evaluators:

  • SEB LU is the major actor in the field of management education in Slovenia and in the region; is providing up-to-date, top-quality business education to a large number of Slovenian students, and with over 1,900 international students, it offers a vibrant learning environment;
  • SEB LU has both an exceptional academic impact, and its research and intellectual impact are global and local;
  • has a very extensive impact on the firms and organisations in Slovenia due to its active, experimental pedagogy that constantly seeks to link learning and practice;
  • SEB LU is strongly embedded in the country, is at the heart of Slovenian networks, and plays a significant role within its economic and political ecosystem;
  • SEB LU has an impact in the societal sphere that is both broad, and deep; the school is a role model in terms of Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability (ERS) for other institutions in its environment.

How did you approach measuring the impact of SEB LU? What would be your advice to other schools on how they should approach measuring their impacts?

Darija:   SEB LU’s impact was measured in various  ways: we used our internal data, which is regularly collected, accessible secondary data, and prepared several surveys that were sent to different stakeholders. My advice to other schools would be to carefully design the measurement methods, and to comprehensively integrate them into existing processes. Measuring the impact of the schools should be an ongoing process, based on standardised methods, enabling the school to track the same type of information, and thereby allowing the school to identify the impact the school has produced over short or long periods.

Marjan:  Our experience is, that the BSIS demanded that we take a hard look at who we are and what our fundamental purpose is. That is why it is so important for the school to start, not with measuring the outputs and outcomes, but with what comes first, and this is the long-term vision of the school. A clear vision means a good vision-driven strategy. As the vision is the outcome you seek, in this situation measuring outputs (direct results), outcomes (the difference, made by outputs), and impact as the ultimate goal, should be simpler and much more effective.

What are the outcomes of the EQUIS and BSIS processes on SEB LU’s current and future activities?

Darija: EQUIS encourages schools to approach quality as an ongoing process. Based on the comprehensive self-evaluation report and a fruitful discussion with our peer review team, we identified the key areas for improvement, through which we will maintain and further increase the quality of our processes and activities.

Marjan: The BSIS report confirmed and stressed a very strong and positive local and international image of the SEB LU with an excellent regional, national, and international recognition and reputation. After the visit, BSIS experts suggested a series of recommendations to improve SEB LU’s impact, for instance in the fields of internationalisation and international students, executive education, alumni careers, balancing academic and managerial impact, the dissemination of research results and, generally, communicating our impact more frequently to more stakeholders. This feedback from the experts provides a great opportunity for us to confirm and identify future actions to improve quality and impact.


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