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When is a business school teacher not a business school teacher? When he or she is teaching executive short programmes might well be the answer.

While students on degree programmes are hungry for the type of academic research for which the traditional professor is famous, on short non-degree programmes diversity is the key. From professional coaches to clowns and religious gurus to firewalkers, management development programmes draw on a whole host of different trainers. Indeed, it is not unusual to see a whole roomful of executives playing musical instruments or role-playing some medical emergency on a short management development programme.

Even on the more straight-laced customised programmes, it would be rare to discover that a slot on the programme had not been reserved for a lecture or a session from one of the corporate board members who had specified the programme.

The key to selecting the appropriate faculty, tutors and trainers is to analyse carefully the needs of the client, according to Ian Turner, managing director of the Duke Corporate Education Enterprises LSE joint venture, in London.

Unlike most business schools, which rely on their core academic faculty to teach programmes, Duke has a network of around 500 professors, tutors and others who work with the company to teach executives. About half the people who teach on Duke CE programmes are academics, the other half are business people. “We use the term faculty very loosely,” says Mr Turner.

The decision about who to select depends largely on the client, says Duke’s Gordon Armstrong. “We can get someone who is cheaper than a Wharton faculty or someone who is more expensive than a Wharton faculty,” he says. “It’s the flexibility to pick the right faculty and pick the right teaching method.”

Once the design of the programme has been decided between Duke CE and the client, a team of researchers are then employed to fit the right professor or tutor to the right part of the programme, says Mr Turner.

He believes the the Duke CE approach is what distinguishes it from the traditional business school. “When we are pitted against other business schools they tend to pitch on research,” he says. “What they have to do is to convince the client that they can transform the research for the client.”

The Duke approach has served Duke CE well and these days even the most traditional business schools believe that there is more to life than pure academia. At London Business School – which has one of the most highly-rated academic faculties in the world – you can no longer get away with just having professors delivering academic wisdom, says Rory Simpson, associate dean for executive education.

“Coaching has got to be an integral part of [the programme],” he says. “You have to have a professional team of coaches.”

In particular coaching is an integral part of ensuring that the teaching in the programme is transferred to the workplace. Coaching is also used to follow up with clients at work at intervals after the programme.

That said, Mr Simpson believes academic rigour has an increasingly important role to play in high quality management education as customers become more and more sophisticated. “One thing I have noticed is that you can’t get away with a good professor telling a few anecdotes any more. You have to have depth and you have to have real research.”

When it comes to the faculty diversity measurements for the Financial Times rankings, diversity is strictly limited to the nationality and the gender of those that teach the programmes. Juggling and musical skills are not included.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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