Harvard Business School: underpinned by the case-study method of teaching © AP

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Welcome to the FT Business school newsletter, a weekly serving of management wisdom, reading recommendations and business-related challenges. FT subscribers can sign up here to receive the newsletter by email every Monday. If you have any feedback about FT Business school, please email bschool@ft.com.

Andrew Hill's challenge

The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

For decades, Harvard Business School has helped influence how business students are taught, handing them a 'golden passport' to an influential network. That influence comes under attack in a new book — called The Golden Passport - by Duff McDonald, which is the subject of my column this week. I question whether other business schools can pull away from HBS's influence — notably its case-study teaching method — and, if so, how.

So my challenge this week is, for once, close to home for business students and faculty: come up with one innovation in the content, or method, of teaching management and leadership that would set business education on a different path into the future. Send it to bschool@ft.com.

Last week, I asked for ideas about how to persuade Whole Foods' founder John Mackey to move on, without losing the heart of the business. David Walters suggests Mr Mackey appoint a chief operating officer, take a sabbatical and explore extending the brand into adjacent markets or territories. I suspect some of the activists besieging the group would prefer him to take a permanent sabbatical.

Further reading: I've been interested this week in news of another example of business with heart — Etsy, the craft marketplace that went public in 2015. At the time, I wrote the listing would test Etsy's strong social and environmental principles, embodied by CEO Chad Dickerson.

He was ousted this week and I've been reading Fast Company's reflection on whether — as some staff fear — the change will lead to a hardening of its approach.

Professor's picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Anand Narasimhan, professor of global leadership at IMD in Switzerland, selects:

IT sector dims as beacon of Indian job creation The story provides an understanding of India’s social, political and business challenges — ideal reading material for my executive students if they are planning a trip to the country. The article tells us that companies in the IT sector are no longer creating jobs for the Indian economy as before.

For many years, the key advantage that Indian companies had was the labour-cost arbitrage of substituting western IT workers with low-cost Indian ones. However, brakes on H1B visa issuance in the US have stalled labour arbitrage opportunities, and second, machine learning is replacing human operators.

The article reveals that Indian IT companies have been at the forefront of skills training, for example, Infosys and Wipro. Close to a million Indians join the workforce every month. However, policy makers and politicians have their hands full to ensure that the additional 280 million people expected to enter the workforce by 2050 will find work.

The $143bn flop: How Warren Buffett and 3G lost Unilever The failed bid to take over Unilever illustrates CEO Paul Polman’s commitment to value – an important lesson for business school students. At the heart of the story, it shows some companies do balance competing responsibilities of profit making, value generation and maintaining environmental sustainability, at the same time.

Ask the academics

Got a question for leading business school experts? Send it to bschool@ft.com and we will publish the best replies in future newsletters.

Jonathan Moules' business school news

Finance is not just something you study on an MBA programme, it is key to whether you make it to business school in the first place. Tuition fees for the top schools have soared in recent years, outpacing the rise in salaries for new MBA graduates, so the offer of a scholarship that pays most or all of your course costs may make all the difference.

There is a trend among business schools to help applicants fund their studies with financial awards based on the nationality of applicants. This is driven by the understanding that a more diverse range of cultures makes for a better learning experience for people who aspire to be global leaders in multinational companies. I have looked at some of these for the Financial Times.

How do you score a scholarship? According to the experts, the best advice is to ask what is available. Research the school’s website – most will promote their scholarship schemes – then tailor your application to present yourself in the most favourable light for such a reward.

It is a cruel irony that the best MBA applicants, who may well be the best resourced, are the most likely to be offered financial inducements because they are the people top schools most want. But even if you are not in that top tier, there is never any harm in asking what assistance can be provided.

Test your knowledge

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Compiled by Wai Kwen Chan

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