1st edition: Quality and Innovation

In these very peculiar times, we have seen some new and high-impact initiatives in our network. This uncertain environment has at least had the advantage that it was a fertile ground for innovation within the business school community. Entrepreneurship has a central place in many business schools since quite a while and business schools have certainly also practiced what they preach in the course of the year 2020.

By Griet Houbrechts
Director, Professional Development
EFMD Global

Although some might argue that accreditation and standards stifle innovation, the continuous quality improvement process, putting a school’s strategy at the centre, can also be a very powerful change management tool.

Building on testimonials of schools that participated in the Quality Assurance Academy and the QAA How to Webinars earlier last year, it is clear that accreditation has the potential of fostering internal collaboration across departments and services, if organised with that intent. It is also an opportunity for schools to engage with their stakeholders and build stronger connections between some stakeholder groups. This increased cross-fertilisation and diversity of opinions can spark ideas for projects.

The value of any accreditation or assessment also lies in the external perspective on what the school is doing and how it does this. This critical but collegial view supports schools to constantly improve and helps them realise where they might not be using their full potential. The peer reviewers accompany the school in their quality improvement journey and the accreditation community forms a fantastic pool of mentors.

Through the peer review process, schools benefit from a benchmarking process that exposes them to diverse practices. This inspiration as well as the valuable advice and recommendations certainly foster innovation.

Accreditation shouldn’t drive a school’s strategy. It is up to the school to reflect on its strategy and its distinctiveness, and then use accreditation to tell their story. The standards don’t necessarily constrain, but allow a school to highlight their strengths and identify areas for improvement. Using those strengths to address the big issues in society then enables business schools to increase their valuable impact on society at large.


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