AACSB Business Accreditation Task Force: Reimagining Business Accreditation

AACSB's executive vice president and chief accreditation officer, Stephanie Bryant, and Nancy Bagranoff, co-chair of the Business Accreditation Task Force (BATF), take a look at why the BATF was formed and how it will impact business schools today and in the future.


Stephanie Bryant: [00:19] So good to have you here with us today to chat with our new initiative at AACSB, the Business Accreditation Task Force. As you know, our intention is to reimagine business education and what our accreditation standards can do to promote that.

[00:29] You're the Chair or the Co Chair of our Business Accreditation Task Force along with Geoff Perry from the Auckland University of Technology. I want to start by asking you why did you say yes when we called to ask you if you would do this?

Nancy Bagranoff: [00:45] Stephanie, I will tell you that I was very excited, pleased, and honored when you called and asked me. I was excited. I thought, "Oh, this is going to be a big project and take some time," but I knew that we could make things better. That's what excites me. I love taking on a project where I think, "This is going to work out in a way that will benefit so many."

[01:07] I love that we're reimagining it. We're not just retooling it. We're not just redoing it. We're really reimagining it in a way that I think is consistent with AACSB's mission and values.

Bryant: [01:19] Tell us a little more about the reimagining part. Do you think that is a really big change or do you think that's a change around the margins?

Bagranoff: [01:29] It's a big change. If you think about business education, the vision for business education making society better, for example. Wow. How can accreditation standards do that? I think they can. I think that takes you back to the baseline, and you start thinking it over from scratch really.

Bryant: [01:51] Obviously, we have a lot of members, over 1,600 members of AACSB, and we want to take a lot of input. Tell us a little bit about how the task force will work to get input from our members.

Bagranoff: [02:01] I love that we've adopted an emissary model so that the members of the task force really are being assigned to go out there and gather data. They'll do that by embarking on a listening tour where they attend many AACSB meetings, many other kinds of meetings, lots of academic meetings. They'll also interact with practitioners. Many of the task force members actually are all deans, and they have advisory councils, and those are made up of business professionals. They'll interact with them.

[02:32] We really have a model that is meant to collect data from every corner, and then take that data back, analyze it, and start thinking through solutions.

Bryant: [02:43] What if I'm at a school that doesn't have resources, for example, to send me to a meeting or I don't really have ways to go to these other places where I can connect, how can we get the input from someone like that?

Bagranoff: [02:56] We're talking about surveys, webinars, and other approaches that we can use. I do know that all the members of the task force will welcome data from every source and every input.

Bryant: [03:08] Do you think maybe might we think about technology, using technology to get information? What might that look like?

Bagranoff: [03:15] Sure, because we've been using technology for our meetings. We've been having virtual meetings, which are just fascinating when you have members from all around the globe doing those meetings and the time zone differences, it's interesting to accommodate. Certainly, we can use technology to run surveys and to have webinars.

[03:33] We are using the AACSB exchange. We're using that quite a bit. We'll be gathering data through that and analyzing the data through that.

Bryant: [03:41] Everybody will have an opportunity one way or the other to have input. Tell us a little bit about the timeline. How do you expect this to unfold? When might the membership see new business standards?

Bagranoff: [03:52] We're working backwards from April of 2020. The plan is in April of 2020, every member will vote yes for the new standards. [laughs] I think positively. Working back from that, we've thought about how we will spend the next year really gathering the data and then coming up with a working paper draft. That exposure draft will be widely vetted.

[04:15] People will have the chance to weigh in on that. Then, we'll continue to iterate it until we come up with the plan for the April 2020.

Bryant: [04:23] Then, in April 2020, who exactly votes at that meeting?

Bagranoff: [04:27] The AACSB membership will vote.

Bryant: [04:30] Let's pretend like it is April 2020, and we just had our successful vote. We're out celebrating. We're very excited about that. Someone comes up to you and says, "Tell me what you're most excited about. What's the number one thing you're most excited about that you were able to accomplish with this new version of the standards?" What would you say?

Bagranoff: [04:51] I want the value proposition of the AACSB accreditation standards to be enhanced. Feeling that, the balance between the workload, the inputs, the work that it takes to get there, and the wonderful value that it gives to every person associated with it, that equation is really in favor of enhanced value.

Bryant: [05:13] I hope we can do that and maybe solve some of the world's problems along the way.

Bagranoff: [05:17] Certainly.

Filmed at AACSB's Annual Accreditation Conference in Washington, D.C. in September 2018.