Convergence and Divergence Dynamics in British & French Business Schools: top schools need a more heterogeneous approach to outperform the competitors

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This paper focuses on convergence and divergence dynamics among leading British and French business schools and explores how the pressure for accreditation influences these dynamics. We illustrate that despite historical differences in approaches to management education in Britain and France, these approaches have converged partly based on the influence of the American model of management education but more recently through the pursuit of accreditation, in particular from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the European Quality Improvement Standard. We explore these dynamics through the application of the resource-based view of the firm and institutional theory and suggest that, whilst achieving accreditation is a necessary precursor for international competition, it is no longer a form of competitive advantage. The pursuit of accreditation has fostered a form of competitive mimicry reducing national distinctiveness. The resource-based view of the firm suggests that the top schools need a more heterogeneous approach that is not easily replicable if they are to outperform the competitors. Consequently, the convergence of management education in Britain and France will become a new impetus for divergence. We assert that future growth and competitive advantage might be better achieved through the reassertion of national, regional and local cultural characteristics.


The authors: “Without jeopardizing their accreditation, we would expect B-schools to pursue individual and separation strategies to differentiate themselves from others. There are already signs of this happening. The proximity of City University to the financial district of London is reflected in a suite of courses in their B-school (Cass Business School) that prepare students for specialized financial careers. BEM Management School in Bordeaux can demonstrate excellence in wine related businesses. In such examples we see the emergence of B-schools that reflect their particular
location, history and culture. But they do this upon high quality foundations. Ironically, therefore, homogenization will help B-schools find their own distinctive identities.”



Convergence and Divergence Dynamics in British and French Business Schools: How Will the Pressure for Accreditation Influence these Dynamics?Lisa Thomas,Jon Billsberry,Véronique Ambrosini,Harry Barton

British Journal of Management, 2013

DOI: 10.1111/1467-8551.12007

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About Wilfred Mijnhardt
RMIMR is my virtual playground, a place to reflect on issues from my professional context, my job as Policy Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). RSM is the international university based business school at Erasmus University Rotterdam. More info here: Here is my list of relevant publications on the topic of my RMIMR weblog: The rss feed for my RMIMR collection is here: Here is my other weblog on impact of research:

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