Learning can lead to more constructive competition: MIT seeks to enhance relationships with Chinese business school faculty – Alan White

IFF Conference Dean’s Panel, Left to Right: He Gao, Deputy Dean, Yunnan; Guoqing Chen, EMC Chair Professor and Former Executive Associate Dean, Tsinghua; Jun Lu, Dean, Lingnan; Jacob Cohen, Senior Associate Dean, MIT Sloan; Xiongwen Lu, Dean, Fudan; Stuart Krusell, Senior Director, MIT Sloan Global Programs.

Groundbreaking Conference Recently Held in Beijing

As new tariffs take hold and a cooling breeze settles over U.S.-China relations, MIT is seeking to build a better and stronger relationship with their counterparts at Chinese business schools by growing our unique and innovative program, the MIT/China Management Education Program—part of the International Fellows Faculty.

On November 12, 2018, Tsinghua University hosted the International Faculty Fellows (IFF) Conference in Beijing for the first time in the program’s history. The conference brought fellows from Global Programs’ partner schools together with industry leaders, alumni, and faculty to discuss the future of Chinese management education, as well as, the latest trends in curriculum development, publishing, and research.

MIT/Sloan did not create this program as a “teach the teachers” program, but a guiding principle of the IFF Program is that the Chinese Faculty would come to MIT as colleagues; they would learn from us, and we would learn from them.

Through the IFF Program, more than 400 faculty from around the world have spent a semester at MIT Sloan.   “In this collaboration, we felt that it was important to share knowledge,” said former Dean Lester Thurow who was an early proponent of the program.  “We never said this is what you should do.   We’ve always said, this is how we do it here at MIT, take that knowledge and apply it in your own way to your own challenges.   And China has done just that.”

To be sure, other Western schools have made notable contributions to management education in China as well.  For example, the highly regarded China/Europe International Business School in Shanghai (CEIBS) or the highly touted Harvard Business School case development program.

Unlike other Western universities, however, MIT/Sloan’s approach to China was not to establish a physical presence in China, or to transfer a Western curriculum to China.  The guiding purpose of MIT’s approach was to learn about China and the best way to learn was to contribute to China.

As a result, we invested in developing Chinese business school faculties with the intent to make an enduring contribution to China.   This in turn has given us many opportunities to learn about China and establish lasting relationships with important individuals and institutions in Chinese management education.

The IFF Program has had a major impact on careers of Chinese faculty and on the development of management education in China. Professor Qian Xiaojun of Tsinghua University is one example.  “Without the IFF experience I could only have hoped to be a good math teacher,” she says.  “Instead my MIT Sloan experience gave me the chance to help shape our national curriculum and lead faculty training and accreditation initiatives.  Best of all it has given me many golden years of teaching and research in my new area of expertise.”

There is an old Chinese Proverb that fearing the winds, some build shelters. Others, however, build windmills.

We thank our Chinese colleagues for building windmills with us.

Alan White is Senior Associate Dean Emeritus and Senior Lecturer Emeritus at MIT Sloan.  He has been responsible for international programs at MIT Sloan and developing the programs in China.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *