When this year's crop of MBA hopefuls arrives at the University of Tennessee's College of Business Administration in a couple weeks, they'll be pioneers in what B-school Dean C. Warren Neel terms a "paradigm shift in MBA education." To foster the spirit of teamwork and cooperation that is crucial to competing in today's global marketplace, the students will study, work, and take tests in teams--and be graded primarily on their performance as team players.
The emphasis on teamwork applies to the faculty and curriculum, too. Instead of teaching their own classes, 10 professors, dubbed the A Team, have agreed to jointly teach a first-year course that will stress the overlapping and interdependent functions of modern business. In haggling over the new course, the A Team was forced to admit that traditional MBA programs concentrate too much on narrow specialties. To develop a broader sense of leadership in students, the new curriculum includes less economics, a lot less statistics--and more of the dynamics of the real business world.
The Tennessee program is a bellwether. This summer, the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, a St. Louis organization that accredits B-schools, revised its curriculum standard. In the future, all MBA candidates must receive more training in technology and a better grounding in the cross-disciplinary nature of global markets and companies.