Why is flexibility crucial in business and in MBA programs?

Studying a Masters of Business Administration is a great way to get ahead in business – but you have to make sure you choose the right course for you.

In this blog Dr Paul Davies, the MBA Program Director at Swansea University’s School of Management, discusses the importance of flexibility in the world of business and in MBA programs.

“Strategy is often a challenging part of business thinking at the best of times. Aiming to make sense of an organisation’s direction, even in relatively stable environments, is an aspect of management that is not always as successful as desired. Juggling a coherent strategic purpose with the need for flexibility is important, so that opportunities can be identified and taken.

In periods of greater uncertainty, the ability to be more flexible can be critical for organisations. The current unprecedented environment certainly asks a number of questions of organisations. Indeed, there are incredible examples of a range of businesses working on their own and together, in order to help provide much needed equipment for those that are involved in combating Covid-19. Social distancing has also meant that thousands of businesses are now having to work remotely and turn to online platforms for team and client meetings. Such flexibility demonstrates the ability to think in creative ways as circumstances change. The ability to think in creative and critical ways is a core skill for managers and lies behind innovative practice. These are skills that can be developed and this is why many business professionals look to extend their education to masters level.

The MBA has been a cornerstone of business schools for a number of years and, as with an organisation’s strategy, it has gone through changes during its lifecycle. In the past there have been criticisms that an MBA course creates ‘identikit’ managers; not preparing professionals effectively for the business challenges that they will face. Furthermore, a corporate identity may be blind to the challenges faced by more varied organisational forms, such as not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises. However recent years have witnessed a shift in the nature of an MBA course, and the MBA at Swansea School of Management typifies this change.

The philosophy of the MBA at Swansea is to explore human as well as shareholder value. Value appears a simple word but can mean different things to a range of stakeholders. The present environment has inevitably led to critical examinations of the way that many parts of society have evolved and to what extent they may appear in the near future. The degree of change that has underpinned the concept of a new normal is a radical one, but change is a constant in business. The ability to understand the varied forms that companies take and the way that change shapes and develops them is at the heart of the MBA in Swansea. Challenging modules provide an opportunity for students to explore themes that open up perspectives on the way modern business operates. The varied themes establish a base of theory to be examined and related to practice.

The current environment has provided a window for reflection on the way that business and society has operated and the way it should continue to operate in the future. Reflection is a skill that is not always fully encouraged or developed amongst management professionals, yet it enables the strategic thinking that generates change and innovation. An MBA program should provide a critical space to think and challenge so enabling stronger practice across all types of organisation; and this is definitely what it does at Swansea University.”

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