Executive Education

Why MBA Graduates Are Leading Innovation

mba graduates leading innovation

In today’s business world, irrespective of the industry they operate in, all organisations face one similar question: are we truly harnessing innovation?

This article comes courtesy of DurhamUniversity Business School

Innovation has long been a cause and effect for the success of business development to excel in fast-moving global business environments.

Innovation is a key driver for MBA programmes and as we continue to learn of many successful business leaders beginning their journeys with an MBA, universities understand the importance of developing the ability to form and implement innovative ideas in the business world.

An MBA opens up new pathways for accelerating leadership capabilities and acquiring new skills for the workplace which can drive innovative thinking.

Academics realise the practical application of their teaching and research through students who complete their MBA, and their long-term contributions towards the development of business methods and practices to enhance career advancement in areas such as entrepreneurship, consultancy and technology.

There is a growing significance for millennials learning and developing their entrepreneurship capabilities on an international scale. Most MBA programmes offer a global community, embracing students from numerous nationalities and cultures to share their knowledge and experiences with navigating complex business landscapes. MBA students either come to their programme with pre-existing personal brands of entrepreneurship, or can learn how to further enhance them. By working with topical case studies, as well as interacting and networking with entrepreneurs across different industries, they are inspired and challenged to develop unique techniques to drive innovative thinking and fuel the entrepreneurial lifecycle.

In a world powered by interconnected networks where knowledge is widely distributed, organisations cannot just rely on their own research to increase their innovative opportunities. Today’s MBA student is techno-focused and through the specifically designed programmes, they will develop in-depth knowledge of business analytics techniques across different industry sectors for a critical insight into technology innovation.

Professor Henry Chesbrough coined the term ‘Open innovation’- a concept that fills in the gap between business and academia. The approach is based on the fact that useful knowledge today is widely distributed and that no company can innovate effectively on its own.

This is where the MBA graduate steps in. MBAs develop a wide range of skills to identify underlying drivers and future trends in technological innovations across various industries. In their research article, ‘Process Innovation: Open innovation and the moderating role of the motivation to achieve legitimacy’, Dr Christos Tsinopoulos, Professor Carlos Sousa and Dr Ji Yan from Durham University Business School argue open innovation provides ideas for improving existing routines and mention that engaging with external partners who have knowledge to share, allows organisations to find opportunities for improving what they do.

MBAs develop the ability to choose appropriate techniques to apply to challenges and fully understand the role of technology as a game changer in terms of creating new products or markets – a key component of the MBA leadership toolkit.

Alongside the spreading interest in technology, consultancy continues to influence business schools to serve the needs of the profession as consultancy firms still remain one of the largest recruiters of MBA graduates according to latest MBA placement statistics by the Financial Times.

MBAs further develop the hard and soft skills needed for success in consultancy, such as in-depth insights into the industry and elevate their capabilities in the fields of management consulting and project management. Through case analysis and capability enhancement practices, they also acquire relevant key competencies needed to excel as a consultant within the global marketplace.

Whether their focus is in entrepreneurship, technology or consultancy through their all-round MBA learning, underpinned with practical business experience an MBA graduate is equipped with a leadership toolkit to enable any businesses to become truly innovative.

About the Author

Durham University Business School is one of the UK's oldest business schools and we are proud of our heritage and prestigious international recognition. Founded in 1965, we are one of an elite group of schools worldwide to carry three internationally recognised quality assurances, a testament to the calibre of the School and an endorsement of the exceptional quality of our programmes. The Durham Full-Time MBA is ranked 75th in the world in the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2017 and provides ambitious professionals with everything they need for success in the business world: agile analytical thinking, global awareness and strong communication skills.