“Rankings are an incentive for us”

25 Nov 2019

Business Administration is the right course of study for those hoping to make firms more ‘successful’, responsible or sustainable, says Manfred Schwaiger, Dean of Studies in the eponymous Faculty. In an interview, he explains what graduates need, and ...

Professor Schwaiger, what is your personal view of the status of teaching? Teaching students is our primary task. One important aspect of practice-oriented fields like Business Administration is that we are able to place relatively large numbers of graduates in positions that offer attractive starting salaries. That is why we regard teaching as such an important component of our range of services.

You are Dean of Studies in the Faculty of Business Administration. How do you rate the quality of teaching in Economics at LMU? I believe that we take the task very seriously and come up with clever ideas. – But one would really have to put that question to our students and to employers. We base our own assessment on pertinent statements from the business community and on ranking exercises. In the rankings published by the magazine WirtschaftsWoche, for instance, personnel managers and other specialists in human resources are asked to name their favorite sources of recruits in Business Administration. We have regularly been ranked among the best in recent decades, and we regard this as positive feedback.

About 2 years ago, there was a lot of debate on whether the German approach to the teaching of Business Studies focuses too much on theory. Was this contention justified and, if so, what has changed in this regard in the meantime? What is your view on the controversy? We do not believe that the task of universities is, or should be, to ensure that graduates are fully prepared for a professional career. What we strive to do is ensure that they are capable of succeeding in their chosen profession. When they leave university, they should be in a position to rapidly acquire and lastingly retain the knowledge of daily on-the-job routines that they need to meet the demands of their professional roles. And I think we do a good job in this respect. At all events, we do our very best to impart to our students the analytical capacities and key skills that are necessary in the business world.

Can you give me an example? We have initiated a number of modules which allow students to put their foot on the accelerator, so to speak, to get up to speed and swiftly extend their skill sets. For example, in our Project module, Master’s students work virtually full-time as management consultants on a real-life business problem for a period of 10 weeks – usually in direct cooperation with firms. In some cases, the companies provide them with their own workplaces. Students as well as businesses – and in consequence, we too – are delighted with this learning format. And it is also an important differential feature that distinguishes us from the competition.

Do students of business and economics benefit from Munich’s position as a leading commercial center? Yes, I think that‘s true. Undoubtedly, the Faculties of Economics and Business Administration at LMU have always done their best to make use of the advantages that Munich, with all its economic strengths offers. – After all, Munich is home to the headquarters of no less than 7 of the 30 firms in the German Stock Exchange’s DAX index. In addition, we have consulting firms, a lively media industry and a growing start-up scene here. In the course of every semester, students have the opportunity to hear a guest lecture given by a company director, while experienced practitioners give talks at least once a month. – And speaking of practice, I should point out that the demand for well-trained business professionals in Munich is so strong that virtually nobody fails to find a position.

When does it make sense for a graduate in Business Administration to do a Master’s degree in Economics? It makes sense for everyone who is really interested in how economics works. And as far as Business Studies in particular are concerned, it is an appropriate choice for anyone who is interested in playing a role in the management of companies, and wishes to make them more successful. – And in this context ‘more successful’ can also be taken to mean more responsible or sustainable or whatever, more responsive to customers’ needs. With a Master’s degree in Business Administration one is well equipped to decide how firms should best operate in the future and, in so doing, one can make a contribution to the wellbeing of society as a whole.In addition, a Master’s is of immediate relevance for all those who intend to pursue an academic career in Economics or Business Administration. Here in Munich, we offer what we call a ‘Y model’. In the first year of the Master’s program, the content is essentially the same for all participating students. After that, those whose ambitions tend more toward the academic sphere can choose to do a Master’s in Business Research, which leads on to a doctoral program. The MSc course is more strongly oriented to those whose goal is a career in practical business administration.

I have one last, personal question. In this year’s nationwide competition for the title “Professor of the Year”, sponsored by the UNICUM Foundation, you took third place in the category Economics and Business Studies. Were you pleased? Of course – it is a positive and very welcome acknowledgement of one’s professional activities. On the other hand, it raises the question of what one needs to do to improve one’s position in this ranking! In that sense, every ranking of this sort is an incentive to do better.

Manfred Schwaiger is Full Professor of Business Administration, Head of the Institute of Market-Based Management (IMM), and Dean of Studies at the Munich School of Management, which is part of LMU Munich. He is the Academic Director of the MSc in Management – European Triple Degree, a multi-degree program offered by LMU in cooperation with the École de Management Lyon (France) and Lancaster University (UK). His main research interests cover the management of intangible assets (esp. reputation and trust), return on marketing, consumer behavior, corporate communications, and market & trend research.

If you would like to know more about doing a Master‘s in Business, Economics or Social Sciences, pay a visit to the Munich Masters’ Fai, jointly organized by the LMU, TU and the University of Applied Sciences (HM) on November 29, 2019. For more information, see master³münchen // Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften.

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