In higher education leadership literature, scholars have referenced the need for administrators to possess key attributes such as integrity, honesty, passion, determination, and team building (Scott, Coates, & Anderson, 2008). Even in modern times, the focus on soft skills means that academic leaders need to possess the necessary competency to resolve emerging challenges that permeate today’s learning environment. A good example to assess the impact of leaders in learning institutions is the Harvard Business School (HBS). I have chosen the HBS case study because it contains all the elements that learners need to understand the impact of leaders on the wellbeing of learning institutions. Since its inception, HBS has undergone a considerable transformation in terms of administrative structures and quality of education. From a personal perspective, the HBS case is relevant to me because, first, I am a product of higher education. I am curious to understand the impact of leaders on prestigious learning institutions such as HBS and how they have adapted to the dynamic nature of modern education. Second, I am keen to understand the link between leadership practices and marketability of the MBA course offered by the HBS. Specifically, I would like to know how a prestigious institution such as HBS compares to others in the educational sector. Third, the case is relevant to me because I am interested in identifying key bottlenecks that the institution needs to overcome in order to achieve its market objectives.
Overview of the Harvard Business School
HBS is a prestigious institution that offers a wide range of business-related courses. The institution is particularly reputable due to its MBA program, which it established in 1924 (Noble & Shih, 2012). Since then, HBS has continued to evolve in its efforts to adjust to the ever-changing needs of the global workplace environment and economy. The institution has placed great emphasis on international business and the balancing of higher-level strategic thinking with more tactical-skill development (Noble 7 Shih, 2012). One key development in the HBS Over the years is its decision to reduce student workload by discontinuing with Saturday classes and reducing the number of weekly class hours.
The student enrollment to HBS MBA programs has been mainly cyclical. Notably, the student population has been increasing irregularly, particularly in the last two decades (Noble & Shih, 2012). Nevertheless, overall retention rates are particularly high on its MBA programs. The ration between male and female students is balanced, with women comprising of 36% of the total student population. The institution also has a significant number of international students who comprises of 34% of the total population (Noble & Shih, 2012).
Tuition fees have been increasing rapidly over the years from a low of $2,000 in 1969 to $51,200 in 2013. The institution predicts that students on its MBA programs would soon incur expenses in excess of $84,000 per year (Noble & Shih, 2012). HBS graduates are highly marketable in the global economy. Sectors such as manufacturing, banking, and insurance have demonstrated a preference for MBA graduates from HBS. Besides, HBS alumni have achieved significant success in their respective careers and have contributed greatly to the growth of the global economy.
Need for a Change
HBS is a great historical institution with global reputation. Its contribution to the global work force is indisputable. From the case study, it is evident that most of the allure of HBS stems from its traditions. According to Garrison and Vaughan (2013), traditional learning institutions face the risk of failing to adapt to the modern trends, both in the education and the global economy. Evidently, the circumstances that prevailed during HBS establishment have changed drastically. Therefore, it is presumptive to think that the institution can use the same management models that it did over 100 years ago. To adapt to the current market demand, there is a need to change the current leadership set-up in HBS. The institution needs transformative leaders who are not bound by traditions or past culture.
Evidently, there is a tendency for successive leaders at the institution to justify gradual increase in tuition fees every year. As a result, students from poor background are unable to gain access to HBS. A change of top leadership at the institution will result in a revision of policy of prioritizing education over financial considerations. In addition, a downward revision of fees will result in the promotion of diversity and inclusivity. At the moment, most people view HBS as a prestigious institution that only serves students from wealthy backgrounds.
Another reason for the change of leadership structure is the need to build collaboration with other organizations in the country. Traditionally, HBS has prided itself as an institution that provides tailored course for Fortune 1000 corporations. As a result, there is a sense of alienation, particularly among medium-sized organizations. To discontinue this narrow perspective, there is a need for a leadership change at HBS. According to Garrison and Kanuka (2003), it is only top-level managers who are capable of implementing far-reaching changes, particularly in globally-accalimed learning institutions such as HBS.
From the case study, it is clear that HBS needs a drastic rethink in terms of strategies. The most significant challenge for the institution is breaking away from the past. It is important to have new leaders at the helm who will be able to steer the organization to the desired destination. Under the control of new leadership, HBS would be able to revise the high tuition fees it charges students. Second, the institution would be able to foster inclusivity by creating academic programs that are relevant to a wide range of organizations