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Psy performs his hit Gangnam Style in Times Square during New Year's Eve celebrations in New York. (Charles Sykes/AP)
Psy performs his hit Gangnam Style in Times Square during New Year's Eve celebrations in New York. (Charles Sykes/AP)

Business School News

Three countries, one international management degree Add to ...

The Globe’s biweekly business-school news roundup.

A unique new three-country master degree in international arts management will be delivered by Canada, the United States and Italy.

The new 12-month degree, the International Arts Management Master of Management, to be offered this September, is the brain-child of François Colbert, a marketing professor at HEC Montréal who holds the Carmelle and Rémi Marcoux Chair in Arts Management.

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About 25 students from a variety of countries will study four months each at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, HEC in Montreal and Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy. The $40,000 program, to be delivered in English, aims to equip students for an increasingly global arts and culture industry that features multicountry exhibits and international tours.

With the new program, says Prof. Colbert, “We have a master’s degree that would prepare people to work globally.”

In 2008, while on a visit to SMU, he broached his idea to Zannie Giraud Voss, chairperson and professor of arts management and arts entrepreneurship at the university’s Cox School of Business. She loved the notion of academic collaboration across borders.

“What if, instead of replicating faculty, we pooled our collective resources and created something that would be joint?” she recalls of the discussion. During Prof. Colbert’s visit, the two raised the idea with Prof. Voss’s dean who, she says, “immediately jumped on the idea and thought it was fantastic.”

Prof. Colbert then approached his counterpart at Bocconi to complete the three-way partnership.

It still took several years for the respective institutions to work through their own administrative rules and design a program that played to each one’s strengths. SMU will focus on the U.S. approach to doing business in the arts, HEC will explore global marketing of cultural activities and Bocconi will play off Italy’s high-profile status in art, design and fashion.

Typically, arts administrators learned how to navigate legal and other practices across borders by trial and error. Observes Prof. Voss: “Just because a cultural product has been very successful in one country does not necessarily mean that it will have the same level of appeal [elsewhere].”

The new degree comes as arts entrepreneurs near retirement and they prepare to hand the baton to a younger generation equipped to understand the business of culture and also how to use social media to attract new audiences.

The three universities have recruited a star-studded advisory board, including Cirque du Soleil chief executive officer Daniel Lamarre, former New York Philharmonic president Zarin Mehta and Glenn Lowry, director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, to give feedback on the program and provide internships and other support for students.

’Tis the season

At business schools across the country, the winter-spring academic term is a busy time for student-run competitions.

These are high-stakes enterprises, not least for organizers who invest months of preparation for a one or two-day event – ideally to wow attendees, corporate sponsors, judges and, possibly, future employers.

A case in point is the MBA Games that run this weekend at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business in Hamilton. Last year, its teams won all three categories of academics, athletics and spirit and, with that, the right to host the Games this year.

With 665 participants from 22 schools, believed to be the largest in the Games’s 25-year history, the $300,000 project resembles a small business, except that management shifts every year from school to school, depending on who wins. With little institutional memory, students and the host university have only a few months to prepare for a successful competition.

Even before this year’s Games get under way, co-chairs Greg Vrantis and Lindsay Brent have learned a thing or two about project management, volunteer recruitment and marketing.

“Going in to your first career after school, I don’t think that these opportunities [managing the Games] are presented to you at that point,” says Mr. Vrantis, who is about to graduate with his master of business administration and start a full-time job this month.

For Ms. Brent, who expects to earn her MBA next December, recruiting an army of 50 to 60 student volunteers is essential. “The volunteers make the event for people,” she says, with a military-style operation required to post them at all the sites at the Hamilton campus and nearby Burlington.

“You need to motivate them but you also need to empower them,” she says. “You can’t do everything on your own as a co-chair. You have to put your trust in a team to do what you hired them to do.”

With an eye to making future Games more sustainable, this year’s organizers turned to the student-led Association of Canadian MBAs to take over year-round administration to develop sponsorships and raise the national profile. Individual schools will still act as local hosts each year.

“We are trying to put some steps in place to make it [the Games] more sustainable,” Mr. Vrantis says.

 

Follow Jennifer Lewington and Business School News by subscribing to an RSS feed here.

Contact Jennifer at jlewington@bell.net.

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