In many ways, the best Chinese business schools look a lot like their Western rivals. CEIBS has aped foreign peers like INSEAD, which has branches in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and, since last year, San Francisco, by creating satellite campuses—at home, in Beijing and the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, and abroad, in Ghana and Switzerland. Many professors possess Western experience. Chen Fangruo, dean of Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai’s Jiaotong University, taught at Columbia Business School in New York for 25 years before returning to China. Their classroom manner is no different from their Western counterparts’: sleeves rolled up, approachable, engaging, witty. (When, in response to a question about cost allocation in producing an MBA degree, a student suggests that staff salaries are a considerable expense, a CEIBS professor quips that “we would rather be treated as assets”.)
WHEN THE China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) was established in Shanghai’s Pudong district in 1994, its campus abutted mostly nondescript warehouses and tracts of marshy farmland. Today the area is among the city’s ritziest—and gives it its iconic skyline. CEIBS, too, has become something of an icon in the quarter-century since its founding as a joint venture between the European Union and the Chinese government. Last month it held on to its fifth place in the annual ranking of the world’s 100 best MBAs by the Financial Times, a newspaper. Only heavyweights such as Harvard Business School, Wharton, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and INSEAD of France scored better.
Business education in China is booming, and not just at CEIBS. When the FT first published its list in 1999, no Asian school made the cut. This year 17 have done, nine of them Chinese. Seven Chinese institutions are among the 90 or so worldwide to boast the coveted “triple crown” of accreditations—from bodies in America, Belgium and Britain. In 2012 the American one, AACSB International, accredited 13 Chinese schools, seven of them in Hong Kong. Today it certifies 39, including 31 on the mainland (see chart). Between them, China’s home-grown business schools—not counting branches of Western ones it also hosts—offer more than 200 MBA programmes. Competition for places is fierce. Nearly 200,000 people applied last year, close to twice the number in 2016. Fewer than one in four typically get in.
Teaching to the test
Crucially, programmes have Western rigour—a must for those prized global accreditations, says Zhao Ying, who runs WhichMBA.net, a big Chinese tracker (not to be confused with Which MBA?, The Economist’s own annual ranking, which places only one Chinese school, at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, in the world’s top 100; CEIBS stopped submitting data for our list in 2016). “Our curriculum must meet international standards,” says the dean of one top institution.
Perhaps recognising this, the Communist party has allowed business schools to grow unfettered. Although, as the same dean adds, “we need to please the ministry of education”, institutions like his have been mostly spared from curbs on the use of imported textbooks which the authorities have imposed on other places of higher learning. They are not expected to teach Xi Jinping Thought, as the Chinese president’s philosophy, enshrined in the country’s constitution three years ago, is officially known. The ministry does oversee the Chinese management schools’ governing committee, which consists of 30 deans, two or three officials and a few business executives. But meetings are sporadic and contentious topics rare, according to an insider. The last big directive came down in 2014, when Mr Xi forbade bureaucrats and bosses of state-owned firms to attend “high-priced training courses” as part of a broad crackdown on graft. MBAs had previously been all the rage among party cadres.
In important ways, however, China’s management schools are growing more distinct from those in the West. This is true both in terms of what they teach and the career boost they offer.
The teaching first. In the past, Chinese students saw an MBA as a path to joining a foreign company and launching an international career. No local firm was prepared to pay the salary a good MBA commanded. Now China Inc has become “global, richer and ready to recruit our students”, says Ding Yuan, dean of CEIBS. Roughly half of full-time MBAs from CEIBS join Chinese firms. Some go on to Chinese companies that have either recently expanded abroad or acquired a foreign business. Others are young heirs taking charge of family firms as the country’s first generation of entrepreneurs retires. These have often gone to university in the West and want to “recharge themselves” in China, in Mr Ding’s words. The last big group are bosses who missed out on a business degree in their youth. CEIBS has 700 of these enrolled at its MBA for active executives, compared with around 170 students for its regular MBA course—inverting the proportions typical at Western schools. Applications for its English-language Global Executive MBA are growing by 20% a year.
Courses cater to this Sinocentric student body. At Antai some professors use ancient Chinese texts (and not just Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”) to teach their own brand of management theory. Marxism, which many schools still include among their foundation courses, is used as a way to tell students how to navigate capitalism with Chinese characteristics. Schools do not offer explicit modules on relations with the government, which still dominates the commanding heights of China’s economy. Few students, many of whom are in their mid-30s, with a startup or two under their belt or some other real-world experience, think that would be useful. As entrepreneurs, they know far more about dealing with officials than any professor can. But they are still keen to learn how to make the most of regulations. This “policy dividend”, as one prominent dean calls it, is “embedded in everything that we teach”.
Not all divergences from Western MBAs are so subtle. Mr Chen is changing Antai’s syllabus to organise courses by industry—with modules on fintech, health care, self-driving cars and other thriving Chinese industries—rather than by discipline (accounting, marketing and so on), as in the West. CEIBS’s Beijing campus is located in the capital’s Zhongguancun district, which is China’s answer to Silicon Valley.
Above all, students want professors to teach case studies on home-grown firms, not some “old Southwest Airlines case”, Mr Ding explains. “It’s even worse if you bring up GE.” Instead, they want to know how Western theories apply to China’s buzzy native firms. Schools are churning out new local cases about firms such as Ichido, a 20-year-old bakery chain, or Luckin Coffee, a Starbucks wannabe set up in 2017. CEIBS leads a consortium of a dozen or so Chinese institutions aimed at creating common criteria to write them.
Like MBA students everywhere, Chinese ones expect the degree to confer advantages besides pure knowledge. One is a boost to career prospects. Graduates of Western schools typically double their pre-MBA pay. Antai and Fudan University’s School of Management, also in Shanghai, triple it (albeit from a lower base and adjusted for living costs). Both boast near-perfect job-placement rates. CEIBS runs a course for corporate human-resources managers on how to make the most of their graduates.
Many business schools now also run startup incubators to help students with a clever idea for a business. Some graduates co-found startups. Fellow alumni also benefit from the schools’ unusually close ties to China’s leading entrepreneurs. A stamp of excellence from a leading school is a good way to impress deep-pocketed domestic investors. A Chinese MBA has become “one of the real secrets of entrepreneurs’ success”, observes Rupert Hoogewerf, compiler of the Hurun Rich List, a Who’s Who of the ultra-wealthy.
A chance to rub shoulders with captains of China’s private sector is a big draw even for seasoned executives. Ye Kai, a serial entrepreneur from Shanghai who runs a restaurant chain and a group of urban ski schools, and who attended an executive MBA in the late 2000s, says he still meets up with old classmates every other month.
CEIBS claims to have the “largest and most prestigious network” of alumni in China—over 22,000, including more than 3,000 chief executives. Among them are Dong Mingzhu of Gree, a maker of air-conditioners, and Richard Liu of JD.com, a big e-merchant. In Beijing the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, founded in 2002 by Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest tycoon, claimed in 2016 that former students ran one-fifth of the 103 Chinese firms then in the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s biggest corporations by revenue. They included Jack Ma, the now-retired boss of Alibaba, China’s e-commerce titan and its largest listed firm. The local press has dubbed the school “the rich club”. Members certainly enjoy rich benefits. Jia Yueting, founder of LeEco, an indebted tech giant, was able to rustle up $600m from about a dozen classmates in 2016.
But graduates say that the network’s true value lies in the intangible perks that other groupings do not offer. “In the classroom entrepreneurs are allowed to be weak, and nobody will look down on them,” explains Ms Zhao of WhichMBA.net. “Classmates tell you the truth.” Mr Ye thinks that, in terms of trust, it has no equivalent in China’s business world. Members swap inside details which they would normally never share, he says. After-hours get-togethers can be especially useful to compare notes on delicate subjects like dealing with officials or state-run firms. There is “no textbook to manage this kind of relationship”, says Mr Ye.
Given all these blessings, going abroad for an MBA is increasingly seen as a “huge opportunity cost” by Chinese students, says Mr Chen. In some sectors it can be a liability, by keeping them out of China’s fast-changing market for too long. Henry Zhan, a 29-year-old manager at Fangduoduo, a booming online service connecting homebuyers and sellers, chose CEIBS over top American schools because of its ranking and popularity among Chinese property moguls (including Fangduoduo’s founders). He thinks CEIBS’s 428,000 yuan ($60,000) tuition fee, excluding a monthly boarding fee of $400, will be a better investment than Columbia Business School, which he also considered, and which would set him back well over $100,000.
Foreign students are taking note. Even as international applications fell at seven out of every ten American business schools in 2018—in part because of stricter visa requirements—Asian schools reported a 9% rise in the number of applicants. Demand has risen for immersive Chinese modules taught in China itself. CEIBS recently educated a crop of South Korean executives from Hyundai, Japanese ones from Toyota and French from Michelin and Total. Already over a third of its MBA students are foreign. Rose Luo of INSEAD (which opened a campus in Singapore in 2000) says that several Western schools have enhanced their offerings with double degrees, popular with domestic and overseas students alike—and boosted the prestige of their Chinese partners. She runs one in Beijing, at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management.
The chasm in quality between China’s most prominent schools—Tsinghua’s counts the bosses of Tesla, Microsoft and Facebook among its board members and, since last year, Tim Cook of Apple as chairman of its advisory committee—and its dozens of hangers-on is much wider than in the West, Ms Luo notes. Those unable to get into the best Chinese schools may prefer a decent one abroad. Some of the most ambitious executives at Chinese firms going global will still often plump for a renowned Western institution. But with the rise of CEIBS, Tsinghua, Antai and others, the decision is no longer the no-brainer it once was.■
This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “Chinese management schools are thriving”
Travel agents say business travel most affected by Coronavirus
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) — Travelers going through Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport are not too concerned about COVID-19.
“I do go to China, I have gone to China and I’ve been Wuhan. It doesn’t concern me a whole lot,” said Mike Callahan of Green Bay.
Others are more conscious about the flu and are taking precautions.
“Just by practicing good hygiene and making sure I’m coughing in the corner of my elbow or sneezing and washing my hands really good. I really have no concerns,” said Shawn Massey, who is heading to Houston, Texas.
Travel agents at Fox World Travel say business travelers have been most impacted by the outbreak.
“Asia is of course huge for commerce and trade and that kind of a thing, and Fox World Travel really does to do a great deal of business travel. So, that’s where we’re seeing the most cancellations right now,” said Rose Gray, Business Relations Director for Fox World Travel.
Gray says she’s finding many travelers are hesitant about booking a trip or going one they already have planned.
She says the agency has been getting more questions from people asking about what’s covered under travel insurance if they do want to cancel a trip.
“A covered reason is going to be death in the immediate family, sickness of you or one of your travel companions, those types of things. Fear of traveling to a destination is not a covered reason in most cases,” said Gray.
One tool international travelers can use to put their minds at ease is STEP, the smart traveler enrollment program.
“If the U.S. government were to send an empty plane, which they are in some cases, to go and get quarantined passengers off of a ship, the government would know where you are,” said Gray.
Gray says they have also been able to work with travel companies to make sure the money you put down on a trip won’t go to waste.
“Maybe you’re dealing with a tour company that does more than just Asia, and they’re saying alright, we can’t give you the money back, but can we put it on a Europe trip or can we put it on another destination,” said Gray. So we’re trying to work with the vendors and they’re being quite gracious.”
According to the World Health Organization, no new countries have reported cases of Coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
Travel experts say to check the following sites to keep up to date on the latest travel impacts due to the illness:
Mai Tai Bar thanks customers for 20 years of business
HONOLULU (KHON2) – One of Hawaii’s favorite night life spots is closing this Sunday.
Olive Garden has filed for a permit to do work in the space where the Mai Tai Bar and Bubba Gumps is located at Ala Moana Center. Employees were told that the lease for the restaurants will not be renewed.
The Mai Tai Bar has been a local favorite for the past 20 years. The staff wants to thank its loyal customers for all the support.
“It’s a great feeling when you hear people say I come here every week, every day on my vacation, I’ve met my husband here and so we just want to thank everyone for their support year after year the bands the promoters the sponsors that have made us who we are today,” said Teresa Morales, Manager at the Mai Tai Bar.
Details are still developing on exactly what will occupy the space where the Mai Tai Bar is currently located.
Kickstarter becomes first tech company to unionize
- Kickstarter employees have unionized, making them the first full-time employees at a tech company to do so as more across the industry look to organize.
- Workers voted 46-37 in favor of unionizing after a heated back and forth with management that included the firing of two workers leading the organizing efforts.
- “We support and respect this decision, and we are proud of the fair and democratic process that got us here,” Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan said in an emailed statement.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Kickstarter employees have officially unionized after a vote was tallied Tuesday, marking the first full-time workers at a tech company to do so as more across the industry look to organize.
The historic 46-37 vote in favor of unionizing comes after a contentious process, which involved the firing of two Kickstarter employees who were leading the efforts. The employees then filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, which has yet to resolve, according to Vice.
“We are so truly grateful to everyone who has supported us along the way,” the union said in a tweet, mentioning the Office and Professional Employees International Union and its local chapter through which the group unionized. “And to all tech and creative workers looking to fight for your rights, this is only just the beginning!”
“We support and respect this decision, and we are proud of the fair and democratic process that got us here. We’ve worked hard over the last decade to build a different kind of company, one that measures its success by how well it achieves its mission: helping to bring creative projects to life,” Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan said in an emailed statement.
—Kickstarter United (@ksr_united) February 18, 2020
Kickstarter employees announced their union drive publicly last March, under the name Kickstarter United, on the same day that co-founder Perry Chen resigned as CEO. Chen had a history of turmoil at the company. He left the company in 2013, but reassumed the CEO title in 2017. A year after his return, 50 of Kickstarter’s 120 employees had left and employees told BuzzFeed News that Chen’s management style was the reason for it.
Kickstarter had been dealing with tensions that employees said arose from Chen’s heavy-handed management style as well as internal disagreement over a decision to remove a project from the site after right-wing news site Breitbart claimed the project violated the Kickstarter terms of service, according to Slate.
Last September, Kickstarter fired Clarissa Redwine and Taylor Moore, two longtime employees who had been leading the union drive. CEO Aziz Hasan wrote in a blog post that neither were fired for their organizing efforts, but also said that “the union framework is inherently adversarial.” Redwine’s termination ultimately led her to file a complaint with the NLRB. Employees have also accused the company of taking various steps to thwart their efforts to unionize.
“So many people worked incredibly hard to earn Kickstarter’s employees a seat at the table, and now they have one. Kickstarter is now a place for collective action through and through,” Redwine said on Twitter after the vote was announced Tuesday, adding that “the vote was close. Management did a great job busting.”
While Kickstarter United is the first union of full-time white collar employees at a major tech company, workers across the industry have been ramping up organizing efforts over the past several years.
Over 2,000 cafeteria workers at Google’s Bay Area offices voted to join a union last December and Google contract workers in Pittsburgh voted to unionize last August, while Chicago employees of the food delivery service Instacart also unionized earlier this month, according to Motherboard. Several digital media outlets, including BuzzFeed News, Gizmodo Media Group, and podcast producer Gimlet, have also recognized employee unions in the past year.
Short of unionizing, workers at major tech companies have organized around issues such as controversial company policies, pay and benefit disparities, sexual harassment, and various types of discrimination. Thousands of Google workers staged a walkout in 2018 over the company’s record on sexual misconduct, while others protested last year after Google fired several employees involved in organizing efforts as tensions within the company continue to simmer.
Employees at Amazon spoke out about the company’s impact on the environment and its warehouse employees striked last year during its busy “Prime Day” over working conditions. In recent months, Microsoft employees went as far as to resign over the company’s work with Immigration Customs and Enforcement.
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