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La Trobe Business School

Month: February 2018

Disruptive Innovation – What is it all about?

La Trobe Business School recently had the pleasure of hosting Prof Dr Markus Münter from Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (htw saar), Saarbrücken, Germany. Professor Münter is the Chair of Microeconomics, Strategy and Entrepreneurship at htw saar, and built on previous collaboration initiatives between Dr Alex Maritz, Professor of Entrepreneurship at LBS. The duo has previously hosted Google Start-up weekends in Europe, together with initiatives at various start-up incubators and accelerators.

 

Prof Dr Alex Maritz and Prof Dr Markus Münter

 

During his visit, Professor Münter enhanced research and engagement activities at La Trobe Business School, and in particular, presented his internationally renowned work on Disruptive Innovation to LTU’s PhD students, MBA students and Accelerator participants. He informed that disruptive theory is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. Despite broad dissemination, theory’s core concepts have been widely misunderstood and its basic tenants misapplied. He demystified this by providing inferences from an economics of disruption perspective. He explained disruption from the context of technology regimes, origins of new knowledge and impact of firms and market structures. From a pragmatic perspective, he provided a galley of disruptive technologies, such as mobile internet, advanced robotics, automation of knowledge, AI, and next generation genomics. He specifically demonstrated disruptive innovation nuances applicable to entrepreneurs and start-ups, identifying disruptors such as airbnb, spotify, UBER, Netflix, WhatsApp and Alibaba.

Professor Münter has kindly made one of his presentations available here

 

Developing a Sustainability Disposition

In 2008, La Trobe Business School (LBS) was one of the first schools to become a Signatory to PRME. LBS has been actively engaged in both embedding responsible management within its school as well as contributing to the PRME network. LBS is starting their second term as a PRME Champion. Ten years on, LBS was selected to be a PRME Champion along with 38 other business schools from across the world who are taking transformative action on integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into three key areas: curriculum, research and partnerships.

 

In 2015, LBS put in place a second year subject focused on Sustainability which is mandatory for all students enrolled in any Business Degree at La Trobe University. Because of its focus on developing a sustainability disposition in students rather than just educating them about the issues, the course has been very well received by students and continues to be an exemplar of cross-disciplinary subject content within the School.  Dr Swati Nagpal  was interviewed about this innovative course.

 

Dr Swati Nagpal receiving the LBS Award in recognition of her continual support of the PRME initiative

 

What is La Trobe Business School’s approach to sustainability in the classroom?

LBS understands the obligation as an institution to advocate for responsible management education throughout the school; in its four departments and its research centres, and by advocating and supporting responsible management initiatives and operations across the university.

A patchwork of subjects addressing Sustainability Education in Business degree courses at La Trobe was replaced in 2015 by a core second year subject entitled ‘BUS2SUS – Sustainability’, for all students enrolled in any Business degree. More than 2,500 students are now enrolled in this compulsory subject every year.

The subject is based on a blended learning design that allows for greater scalability across the entire portfolio of majors within Business and across all our campuses in Australia and abroad. With sustainability as the lens or context for change, students are introduced to systems thinking, tools for solving wicked problems, and the role of advocacy in managing change for sustainability.

 

How have you approached the design and delivery of this core course?

The process of embedding sustainability thinking into the core business curriculum presented a number of challenges, including distinguishing sustainability from related streams of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and non-financial measurement and reporting. The curriculum design was ultimately guided by the need for a future set of skills, rather than by identifying disciplinary content that business graduates might require. These skills include critical thinking, creative problem solving, ethical awareness and teamwork. For example, by working in small groups in class, and engaging with ‘wicked’ global sustainability issues such as climate change, global poverty and renewable energy, students are required to apply a systems lens to examining the true nature of the issues and potential solutions.

There is also an emphasis on creating a ‘safe space’ in classes to tackle often controversial social and environmental issues such as indigenous disadvantage in Australia, the refugee crisis and the potential for a sugar tax. This has required class teachers to be briefed and trained in pedagogical techniques that require reflexive practice and approaches to manage conflict.

 

The course puts a focus on developing a sustainability disposition. Why do you think this is important?

Research on education for sustainability, student surveys and teaching feedback have taught us that developing graduate skills for sustainability is not enough to create the impetus required for students to be change agents for sustainability, there also needs to be an emphasis on creating a ‘mindset’ change. This is enabled in the subject through use of a range of pedagogical design elements to create a learning environment that seeks to bring about this change. For example, through the use of case studies, examples and problem-based scenarios that require students to reflect on their underlying values base and question the status quo in management thought. As such, this subject places a focus on both generic graduate skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, while also creating the disposition towards sustainability and ethical decision-making.

 

How are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) embedded into this course?

Using the SDGs as a guide, students are introduced to the interplay between the social, environmental and economic pillars of sustainability, and the implications for ethically complex decision-making. Ultimately, educating students new to the SDGs places us in a unique position as the entry point in their educational experience. We believe this is critical in developing their awareness of global issues and challenges so that they can enter the workplace fully equipped to advance and implement policies and practices that will contribute to sustainable business.

 

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?

The question of whether business schools should approach embedding sustainability into core curriculum or as an elective has not been resolved to date. Our experience at LBS in taking the ‘core subject’ approach has been positive since we have the institutional support in terms of the University’s focus on sustainability and our historical emphasis and ethos of social justice. Therefore, gaining institutional support for furthering the sustainability agenda is key, along with the resources to make it happen.

The challenge in any modern business subject in sustainably is an emphasis on both the development of graduate skills and students’ disposition towards sustainability and ethical decision-making. This requires modern educators to span the boundary of the classroom and identify opportunities to engage with industry partners and other stakeholders to continuously produce innovative teaching materials and approaches that inspire and motivate students to pursue business ideas that align with the SDGs.

 

 

What other initiatives at your school you are particularly proud of in this area especially in relation to the SDGs.

In 2017, LBS embarked on a series of workshops that brought together delegates from business, local government, education, not for profit and community sectors to discuss what the SDGs mean for them, and create opportunities for collaboration among the sectors towards implementation of the goals.

This outreach project on the SDGs is an international effort by our CR3+ network which includes LBS and PRME Champions Audencia Nantes School of Management (Nantes, France), ISAE/FGV (Curitiba, Brazil) and Hanken School of Economics (Helsinki, Finland). All four business schools have committed to hosting similar workshops in their countries.

Two Australian workshops were held in Wollongong and Albury-Wodonga on 15/11/17 and 29/11/17 respectively. In addition to the original aims as set out in the project proposal, the choice to focus on regional areas was two-fold; firstly, to develop our regional campus’ capacity to build and sustain cross-sector engagement and partnerships on the theme of the SDGs, and secondly, to focus on areas where UN Global Compact Network Australia presence is limited.

 

This post is part of a special feature throughout the month of February focused on schools in Australia and New Zealand. This blog post was originally published on PRIMEtime. Read the original article.

 

La Trobe University’s New Sydney Campus

At La Trobe Business School, students can study a range of Business courses at one of Australia’s leading universities in our new state-of-the-art Sydney Campus. Officially opened in 2017, the new campus is ideally located in the centre of the city’s business precinct. It is close to part-time work and internship opportunities, and is just minutes’ walk away from major transport hubs, shopping centres, vibrant café districts and a number of Sydney’s world-renowned icons.
With just under 1000 students, the Sydney Campus offers a friendly and supportive community for you to learn and make friends.  Our personalised learning approach has attracted students from more than 30 countries to the campus, which contributes to a rich, multicultural education experience.

 

Find out more about this exciting campus in the video below:

 

Business School Programs offered at Sydney are:

  • LMBBSY – Bachelor of Business
  • LBCSY – Bachelor of Accounting
  • LBIBSY – Bachelor of International Business
  • LMPMSY – Master of Management (Project Management)
  • LMPASY – Master of Professional Accounting

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