Executive education specialist IMD has joined forces with China’s most prominent private business school, the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), to jointly teach a dual degree Executive MBA programme – an MBA for working managers.

The new programme will be taught partly in Switzerland, in Lausanne, and partly in Beijing in China, with half the professors involved coming from each school. The 20-month programme will begin in February 2015 and will be in addition to the individual EMBA programmes already taught by the two business schools. The two schools are hoping to attract 60 participants to the programme, from which the participants will receive two degrees.

The difference between IMD’s established EMBA and the new programme will be that the former concentrates on global management while the latter focuses on China and Europe, says president Dominique Turpin. The partnership is a way for the school, based in Switzerland, to extend its reach, he says. “We are still very dependent on the European market.”

His decision to team up with CKGSB was influenced by the Chinese business school’s adaptability. “It’s very difficult for traditional business schools to change,” he says. “A new player like CKGSB can say, ‘we are going to have a more flexible approach’. They can choose to be the IMD of China. We felt CKGSB was a good partner because they are like us.”

CKGSB dean Bing Xiang announced in September 2011 that the Chinese school would be launching two dual EMBA degrees, in London and New York. The school worked on executive courses for a time with the Judge school at the University of Cambridge but no formal degree was forthcoming.

Prof Xiang says he still has plans to launch a joint EMBA with a top US business school. “We’re under discussions with US schools for something like this [the IMD dual degree]. Today Europe and the US are still the priority for our students.”

Prof Xiang says IMD has “more experience with senior people” than traditional business schools and was therefore a good choice for CKGSB which targets the “top of the pyramid”, as Prof Xiang calls it. “We concentrate on chairmen and CEOs.”

The result is that CKGSB has a powerful alumni network, including many of China’s top business entrepreneurs. Prof Xiang is quick to rebut suggestions that the school concentrates on networking at the expense of academic rigour, saying that faculty at the school are some of the top academic publishers in the world. “We started out to be a research school,” he adds. Cheung Kong was set up 12 years ago with the financial backing of the Li Ka Shing Foundation,

Prof Turpin says that IMD has already identified those teachers at CKGSB who would be appropriate for teaching on the dual degree through running executive courses with the Chinese school.

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