The China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), headquartered in Shanghai and boasting a new campus in Beijing, is a several-hundred-pound gorilla in the MBA education sector here, enrolling about 200 full-time MBA students and 700 EMBA students per year.
In late August, CEIBS will host several dozen journalists, local and foreign, for what they’ve named the Advanced Business Reporting Programme, which they also refer to as a mini-MBA for media. The two-day program offers 90-minute sessions titled Sino-European Business Relations, Game Theory and Business Strategy, China’s Macroeconomic Landscape, Cross-Cultural Management, Investor Behavior and Protection and a few others. These sessions introduce subjects typically covered in MBA programs, and some of CEIBS leading faculty are slated to teach.
The advantages of this initiative include:
– The journalists attending will gain a better sense of what b-schools do, and how CEIBS works in particular. More favorable coverage of or references to b-schools in general, and again CEIBS in particular, should result.
– The CEIBS faculty who are teaching the various seminars gain recognition by the attending journalists as thought leaders in their various disciplines. Following the program, we will likely seek quotes from and interviews with more CEIBS faculty in various media, adding another boost to CEIBS’s brand recognition.
Laurie Underwood, Director of External Communications and Development at CEIBS, suggests that one b-school in Europe has held a similar program, but neither of us have ever heard of anything like it in the PRC. Proposing such a program to any complicated organization, and getting it approved, is usually a daunting task; I suspect that Underwood deserves a hat-tip for making such a program happen, as it clearly will benefit CEIBS over time.
CEIBS has exhibited a level of global leadership in marketing tactics with its Advanced Business Reporting Programme, a model of the kind of deep communication and transparency that defines great marketing everywhere. At the same time, it has recently been using a catchphrase in its marketing materials that diminishes the school: "China’s first, largest and best-ranked business school."
– CEIBS has somewhat less than 2,000 students enrolled at any one time. Some leading fully domestic b-schools have more than double that. CEIBS may have a larger square-meter footprint, but other than that any claim to being the largest b-school in China is entirely bogus.
– Claiming ranking leadership is something that all b-schools in the world seek to do – no one should single out CEIBS for making such a claim. However, rankings as they are currently administered are a necessary evil at best, more often a net value reduction for business education. True leaders in the sector don’t brag incessantly about their rankings.
The respective fates of the program and the catch-phrase will tell us something important about CEIBS’s future – if the program, which truly is a first for China, thrives, and the phrase joins such risible initiatives as the "Green Dam Youth Escort" software and the plagiarized Expo promotional jingle on the scrap heap, CEIBS will be exhibiting a sense of market maturity that bodes well for its future. If the phrase stays and the program languishes, well…
John D. Van Fleet works in the university sector in China. He lives in Shanghai.