A new approach to business education developed at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management – which teaches students how to create their own problem-solving models – received a big boost this summer with a $10-million gift from the Canadian Credit Management Foundation.
The gift is the second major donation from the foundation and its president, Marcel Desautels. A previous $10-million gift, in 2000, established the Marcel Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking. Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School, says the additional funds will be used to recruit new faculty to the centre, expand its teaching and research activities, and develop the world’s first truly integrative business school curriculum.
The traditional model of business education – which divides business into functional areas such as marketing, finance and operations – has changed little since it was introduced at Harvard University almost 100 years ago. The problem with this approach, says Martin, is that contemporary business challenges rarely fall within a single function but “sprawl messily” across them. Rather than using existing models to solve problems, managers must be able to create entirely new models. “Today’s climate requires businesspeople to be more flexible, agile and creative than ever before,” says Martin.
Desautels himself has observed that business schools are teaching outdated skills. “During my career, I recognized that business students were not graduating with the full complement of skills necessary to help their new organizations address real-world challenges,” he says.