This assumption is based on evidence that shows how complex the interactions between B-schools and their customers, students and stakeholders overall have become. The first aspect is related to international mobility: undergraduate and graduate students as well as MBA students are increasingly attracted to the idea of having a CV bolstered by varied international experiences. That is because they have a higher propensity to move around the world, and they also have to react to company requests to demonstrate at least an international mindset and understanding.
This trend generates a relevant consequence: the choice for students isn't a simple "to stay at home" or "to go abroad" as it was in the past, but the need is to have both experiences available to them in the same institution. Student exchanges, joint programmes and double degrees become key words in the competition between top B-schools to attract high-quality students, and to give them both a solid curriculum and the right international exposure.
On the company side, the interaction with B-schools happens at various levels. On the one hand, companies require executive education through customised programmes delivered in-house by the schools and executive masters (both executive MBA and specialised masters). At the same time, managers need the right environment to update or to energise and reshuffle their expertise.
Compared to ages ago, executive education doesn't only represent a benefit or a nice learning experience. Executive education is more and more integrated within the business. And the cultural experience hasn't only to be "excellent and top class", but coherent with the business and able to generate concrete synergies between the managers and the teachers' perspectives. The only way to do that is based on a very hard job of listening to the customers and of adapting to their needs with a customised approach.
On the other hand, companies aren't only customers buying executive education. They are also key actors within the placement process of the students. On this side, too, interaction, sharing of experiences and common language usage are the pillars of a win-win partnership enabling corporations to recruit students and to make - through this process - successful the entire educational process of the B-school, moving from recruiting students to teaching them to placing them in the job market.
To make this really successful, B-schools have to not only deliver high-quality and updated content, but they also have to ensure international mobility and international exposure, and impart a global mindset to their students. Otherwise, the content becomes irrelevant in a corporate environment where the capability to be international and to understand international trends is a key issue.
(The author is Vice-Rector for International Affairs, Università Bocconi, Milan)