The Growth of Online MBA ProgramsThe traditional Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is recognized around the world as an advanced academic qualification and is acknowledged as an essential career step by many aspiring business executives and professionals.
There now seems to be a new trend emerging driven by entrepreneurial MBA students who are subsequently changing the profile which has been traditionally linked with C-suite students. So why is this trend emerging now?
Entrepreneurial spirit driven by globalizationA number of factors have driven the globalization of various business markets; among them are increased levels of uncertainty, competitiveness, economic austerity programs, innovation in the delivery of public-services, network infrastructures, and mobile and wireless technologies – which have all produced a higher level of networking and knowledge access throughout global societies.
For example, Nigeria has emerged as an area of strong economic growth and is predicted to become even stronger economically in the future. Annual growth rates of around 6% between 2014 and 2017 have been cited by analysts for the economy which serves a population of 170 million people.
The key role which entrepreneurs play in wealth creation within the economy is well acknowledged; such entrepreneurial talent when encouraged and supported generates tax revenues which in turn allow public spending on services for the benefit of all. Improved access to financial aid, educational resources and skills all support the development of the national economy; however, according to the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), other factors such as weak communications and transport infrastructures, unpredictable and costly power grids as well as security-issues are working against the development of certain areas that are essential to business and economic growth.
Nigeria is now Africa’s biggest economy (based on GDP). However, the unemployment rate is typically around 25%, and up to 30% in some urban areas. Nigerians have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and are extremely hardworking. These qualities coupled with advances in technology create excellent opportunities for the development of self-employed entrepreneurs.
The opening up of Nigeria's economy is evidenced by the rapid privatization of many public services, just one of the factors which have led to the need for new models of management practice and hence MBA programs which not only focus on traditional executive level management skills but also the needs of the increasing numbers of entrepreneurs appearing in the marketplace. Online MBA programs accessible through online platforms and channels offer a good fit with the dynamic nature of entrepreneurs in cases such as Nigeria and allows them to acquire essential skills without disrupting their business operations.
Home-Grown Business InnovationEmerging and rapidly developing economies require effective leadership skills to maintain competitiveness and sustainable growth in the global marketplace. The dynamic and diverse characteristics of this economic growth as well as the increasing knowledge-based labor market call for a new approach in terms of learning and leadership.
Competent leaders grounded in relevant techniques and capable of authentic innovation are required to sustain such rapid economic growth. This is one of the main reasons why popular business schools are now seeing their MBA courses attracting more and more entrepreneurs into their ranks than ever before.
Globalization has made it possible for small businesses to go head to head with large multinational corporations through e-commerce and mobile business platforms.
It has also resulted in a savvier consumer, whether individual (B2C) or business (B2B), being well aware of the advantages of buying in a global market. Many business owners consider their chances of success to be greater if they possess the foundation skills and knowledge contained in typical MBA programs.
An increasing number of business students are interested in idea innovation and start-up opportunities as well as being able to manage spin-offs from successful ventures. The need to appreciate the relationship between developing leadership and the commercialization of innovation has also become a focal point for many young entrepreneurial MBA students.
The new face of online MBA programsEntrepreneurs today must possess not only vision, passion, adaptability and resilience, but they also function in a 24/7 interconnected, on-demand, fast-moving world. The explosion of social media and e-commerce while offering extended entrepreneurial opportunities has also generated new challenges for entrepreneurs seeking to acquire the necessary tools and technical skills as leaders in complicated, constantly-changing and multicultural markets and to pursue and drive forward innovative, and frequently, technology-based developments.
Online MBA courses provide entrepreneurs with the ability to operate their business as normal while at the same time acquiring new knowledge and essential skills to give them competitive advantage in their business activities. Online MBAs offer the level of flexibility entrepreneurs must have as well as the opportunities to grow key long-term business networks around the world and learn from peers worldwide. Typical online MBA learning environments allow students to learn about and appreciate the values and attitudes of a range of international participants, leading to the creation and innovation of ideas based on a global vision rather than simply based on local knowledge.
Online MBA programs offer students strategic insights and options for discussing, promoting, and commercializing their ideas, products or services. This in turn allows students to gain a broader capacity in order to achieve their personal and business goals. Students increasingly become more outwardly focused and innovative, sharing best practices at a global level, being open to new opportunities and enjoying access to a mix of both informal and formal learning methods combined with practical experience and reflections.
Business leaders in the future will need to be far more innovative than in the past and the entry of more entrepreneurs into the world of MBA educational programs may well present the first real challenge to the traditional MBA model. All the signs are that MBA programs in the future will indeed become highly valued as an element of entrepreneurial success and their content will no doubt evolve to reflect this.