Professor Elizabeth More is deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Canberra, having previously been director of the Graduate School of Management, chair of Academic Senate at Macquarie University, and managing director of MGSM Pty Ltd. She is president of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management and a past president of the Australian Communication Association. Professor More is also a member of the Australian Institute of Management education committee.
AIM: How would you rate the performance of Australia’s top business schools?
More: There are three dominant players, Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Australian Graduate School of Management and Melbourne Business School. But there are many other very good ones, for example UTS and our very own at the University of Canberra. They look at different markets and student experience. The first three look to the people who are going to end up in executive positions. For many of the others, it is about people who have started out in life as engineers, doctors or school teachers and then find themselves in management positions. The interesting thing is that you don’t come straight from first degrees. You need some experience, and that is the best way of getting management education, particularly at the senior level, because you have an understanding of the context in which the education occurs.
AIM: Are there areas that need improvement?
More: The Karpin Report highlighted that we were not very good in soft skills. That still remains the main challenge. You can always learn accounting, principles of marketing, change management and technology management. But these need to be embedded in an understanding of the human and, indeed, organisational power and political, contexts.
AIM: What role should business schools play in developing a more entrepreneurial culture in Australia?
More: I don’t think you can give all the responsibility to the business schools. These things start from the womb, right through early childhood and into schooling. You can’t have an entrepreneurial culture if you don’t have systems like taxation and government approaches that enable people to fly. It is a jig-saw puzzle and a mindset of risk-taking in a sensible way and within ethical bounds, and business schools are just part of that.
AIM: What is the role of talent, creativity and innovation in the post-Enron era?
More: In many cases it is not just the boxes but actually the human dimension that needs fixing. To me, it’s not about not thinking outside the square or not thinking creatively and innovatively. It is about how you do that within an ethical value sys-tem and how the organisation sets up its culture and reward mechanisms to reward people who are doing things creatively and innovatively within the confines of an ethical and responsible culture.
You have to look at how your culture deals with creativity and knowledge creation. And appropriate risk taking must also be seen from within a culture that is cognisant of appropriate organisational and societal ethical value systems.