Threat of faculty shortage

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Business schools around the globe are facing a faculty shortage within the next decade, according to new statistics.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business reports that the production of business PhDs has declined, while enrolment in undergraduate and masters business programmes has risen. In the 2006-07 academic year, for instance, the average number of new entrants to business doctoral programmes was 12, compared with 14 in 2002-03. Meanwhile, schools expect 11.4 per cent of their doctoral faculty to retire in the next five years, up from 10.8 per cent in 2002-03.

“The shortages have been brewing for [several] years and it’s gotten very competitive,” says Judy Olian (pictured above), dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management in the US, who has researched this area. “We have a very large number of pending retirements of baby-boomer faculty members, exploding student enrolments, and a huge increase in the number of business schools around the world.”

There are other reasons for the worldwide shortage. For one, budget cuts at research universities have had a negative impact on the size of doctoral business programmes. “There are no traditional funding sources for management PhDs like there are in big science,” she says.

Second, business schools have not effectively marketed management PhDs as a credential that leads to a lucrative career. “There is a terminal degree in business in the form of the MBA which doesn’t necessarily encourage students to go on and get their PhD,” she says. “And there is a misconception that if you sign on for a business PhD you’ll be resigned to a life of poverty, when in fact it’s an attractive and viable profession.”

Professor Olian says the shortage is “a very significant issue”. “I think we need to recognise [the value of investing in business doctoral programmes] in the same way we recognise the need to invest in science and technology as a matter of American competitiveness,” she says. “It’s critical to invest . . . I view it as a national priority.”

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