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Networking and connectivity are key words in the language of the Internet. They also loom large in the lexicon of business schools as, increasingly, they compete against and collaborate with each other on a global scale.

In the latest example, Yale University's School of Management and 20 international business schools have set up the Global Network for Advanced Management to connect faculty, students and deans around the world.

"We want to get together and brainstorm about how we can make global management education better," says Stanley Garstka, deputy dean of the Yale's business school. The move, in part, is a response to accreditation agencies urging business schools to equip students for globalization.

With Yale bringing star power, the new network is a loose association of big-name European business schools and others from Asia, Africa and South America. Absent, for now, are schools from Canada, Australia, India and Eastern Europe, though more network members may be added over time.

Through the network, schools share experiences, create global collaborations among students and encourage professors in various countries to work together on case studies and other research. Yale also will offer a new Master of Advanced Management, a one-year degree program for 12-15 top graduates of network schools.

Within the network, individual schools can work out bilateral arrangements that would enable students heading out on a study-abroad trip to connect with counterparts in the destination country. In addition, says Dr. Garstka, students from different schools could travel overseas on a team project, fostering ties that could last well after graduation.

Yale's global network, like others that pre-date it, demonstrates how business education is adapting to global realities, says Daniel Muzyka, dean of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

"There has been an evolution from simple exchanges to deeper partnerships as the global nature of management and business has expanded," he says, adding, "As you look at the demand for business education, it is global."

Sauder belongs to a couple of long-established international networks, such as the Partnership in International Management, set up in 1973 to encourage business student exchanges. The network now has 58 members, including Sauder and three other Canadian schools.

"The focus is on best practices in global management education," says Katriona MacDonald, Sauder's associate dean of international relations and strategic planning.

Through network relationships come collaborations. In 2007, Sauder, the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario and three European business schools, all members of the Partnership in International Management, won a call for proposals from the Canadian government and European Commission for transatlantic student exchanges. Over the period 2007-2010, the Canadian schools received $200,000 from Canada's human resources department ($5,000 a student), with an equivalent European Commission commitment for the European schools.

The use of networks for collaboration and communication of best practices is "absolutely critical," says dean Muzyka. "In global management education, there is an intense and persistent effort to raise the over-all game."

MBA en français

After a two-year hiatus, the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management will offer a revamped French-language MBA this fall.

"It was a time of reflection," says Jacques Barrette, Telfer vice-dean and associate dean (programs), referring to the process required to rethink a program that had gradually declined in enrolment.

"We wanted to attract more French-speaking students and be closer to their needs," he says. "We worked with surveys, focus groups, benchmarking and collected a lot of data about what they want." The Telfer program is the only French-language MBA offered outside Quebec.

For most of a year, Prof. Barrette and a team of about 10 people met every Friday at 8 a.m. to discuss curriculum and other changes to a program designed for those with at least three years of experience in business or government.

The revised MBA, with about 25 students expected this fall from the Ottawa region, incorporates elements of traditional and executive programs.

In recognition that many students work as they study, the French MBA will be offered every two weeks, on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday. Students will be expected to work on a major project, potentially a real-life case from their work place. As well, the MBA will be delivered through a mixture of in-class and on-line instruction.

One new element is a formal feedback process for students on their management and leadership skills. The evaluation occurs at the beginning and the conclusion of the MBA, with coaching from professors on the development of a career plan.

Meanwhile, the school is waiting for final approval on two new graduate diploma programs in management, likely by 2013.

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