Business schools, through their activities, have both a tangible and intangible impact on the neighborhood, city, and region that they operate in. This impact is part of the positive role schools can play.
In order to help business schools better understand the value that they bring to a defined region, European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) recently launched the Business School Impact Survey. I had the chance to speak with Gordon Shenton, and Michel Kalika from EFMD about this new service.
1. Briefly describe the Business School Impact Survey
The Business School Impact Survey (BSIS) is a tool designed to determine the extent of a school’s impact on its local environment – the city or region in which they are located.
The scheme was initially designed by FNEGE (the French National Foundation for Management Education), and has been tested successfully in several institutions, both public and private, in the French higher education arena. These institutions include: Toulouse Business School, EM Normandie, Audencia Nantes School of Management, Groupe ESC Troyes, IAE Lyon, IAE Grenoble, La Rochelle Business School. Since the initial work by FNEGE in France, the BSIS assessment criteria and process have been adapted for an international audience and are now offered in a joint venture between EFMD and FNEGE as a service to business schools in any part of the world.
2. Why would a school want to understand the impact it has on its region?
At a time when all organisations, public or private, are increasingly being held accountable for their activities, there is often a need to demonstrate, with well-documented evidence, the impact that they are having on their immediate environment. This is particularly the case when they are financed or politically supported by local stakeholders.
A business school brings both tangible and intangible benefits to its local environment in the pursuit of its educational activities. The school spends money in the impact area; it purchases goods and services, it provides jobs and pays salaries that are partially spent in this zone. It attracts students from outside the zone who also spend money for board and lodging, and for their current service needs. Beyond the purely financial impact that the school has upon the economic life of the local environment, and impacts that can be measured or quantitatively estimated, there are numerous ways in which it contributes to the cultural life and long-term outlook of the community. Its faculty generate new business creation through entrepreneurial projects, and support local business needs through professional training and managerial development. Its students are a source of dynamism in the life of the region and are a valuable talent resource when they graduate. Through its research agenda and events it organises each year, the school provides an important intellectual forum for the introduction of new ideas in a wide variety of crucial areas of concern – not just to business, but also to the political and social organisations within the region. Last but not least, the business school contributes to some degree to the image of the city or region.
3. What does the survey measure?
The BSIS measurement process is a framework of around 120 indicators covering three dimensions:
Financial and Economic Impact
- Quantifiable statistical data regarding money spent by the school, salaries paid, student expenditures, number of new business start-ups, etc.
- Financial impact, direct (budget) & indirect
- Economic impact (missions of the students, business creation)
Impact on the Community
- Impact upon the managerial community within the zone through the intellectual output of the School’s faculty and through executive education
- Contribution to the intellectual life of the community at large through conferences, public lectures, etc.
- Involvement of the faculty and students in public life within the community
- Dissemination of new ideas, new managerial methods
- The school’s role in raising ethical awareness of global responsibility to society
Attractiveness & Image impact
- Contribution of the business school to the attractiveness of the impact zone and its image
4. How does it work in practice?
Once a business school decides to take part in the survey, the first step is to define the impact zone that will be analysed. The school then needs to collect data leading up to a two day on-site visit by a team of experts who interview a range of stakeholders within and outside of the school. Schools are then presented with a report outlining findings and highlighting areas in which the school’s impact is strong while drawing attention to the areas in which it remains limited.
5. What has the response been so far?
BSIS was officially launched during the EFMD Deans & Directors Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden at the end of January 2014. Three international pilots have recently taken place at Corvinus University of Budapest, Faculty of Business Administration, Hungary; University of St.Gallen, Switzerland, and Instituto Internacional San Telmo, Spain. The response and feedback from the pilot schools has been very positive, and BSIS is now open and available for schools that are interested in taking part. More information on the process can be found via www.efmd.org/bsis or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
“Demonstrating the many ways that [business schools] add economic and social value to the environment in which they operate has become a challenge for business schools. To meet this demand for greater accountability, BSIS is an effective tool to help schools identify, measure, and communicate all the positive contributions they make to the world around them,” Prof. Gordon Shenton, Senior Advisor, EFMD.