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  • Guest Blogger: Re-imagining America’s Business School Curriculums

    Approximately 90 percent of America’s infrastructure is privately owned and yet the primary focus of homeland security educational programs in the U.S. has been directed toward local, state, federal government, and military employees. In addition, most of the homeland security educational programs on college campuses are located within the criminal justice or security studies degree programs. The challenge we must now face is how to best develop a culture of critical infrastructure preparedness within the private sector—one that will allow us to effectively mitigate, prevent, prepare, respond to, and recover from all hazards including acts of terrorism.

    The question we must ask ourselves is: Who provides the leadership to direct the spending of resources of the multiple entities that compose our privately owned infrastructure? The answer of course, is the CEOs, CFOs, and COOs of American businesses and nonprofit organizations.

    How have they prepared themselves for these traditional roles? Most have earned undergraduate degrees and advanced degrees/MBA’s in business, finance, accounting, IT, and marketing. These academic credentials help them develop the traditional knowledge, skills, and abilities required to succeed in leading a business or nonprofit entity. As an adjunct professor who has taught both business management courses and security courses for over 15 years, I continue to find it shocking to observe that it is still possible to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in business without ever taking a course in business continuity, crisis management, terrorism, security management, or homeland security. Ironically, it is the graduates of these business programs who one day will be the senior decision-makers deciding on how the organization will use its resources and finances to protect the people, properties, profits, and assets of their own organization/segment of America’s infrastructure. How can they be expected to make the proper decisions on infrastructure preparedness without the proper education?

    The Department of Homeland Security has attempted to address the issue of critical infrastructure preparedness by sending government liaison employees to the private sector. These employees endeavor to not only make organizations more aware of their responsibilities for emergency preparedness/infrastructure protection, but to discuss how they can best realize this goal. It’s always a challenging role for government employees without any private sector business management experience to advise private business leaders on how to best incorporate security practices into existing business processes and operations. DHS has also advocated the use of ICS/NIMS as the standard emergency response system for both the public and private sectors. The system emphasizes the strategic roles of operations, logistics, planning, finance, and administration. These are the exact elements traditionally addressed in business degree programs. Again, I would challenge anyone to find a business management course that incorporates ICS/NIMS into its course design or business curriculum!

    In order to develop a true culture of homeland/hometown security and critical infrastructure preparedness within the private and nonprofit sectors, it is imperative that America’s colleges and universities re-imagine their business school curriculums by integrating business continuity, crisis management, and homeland security courses and modules into existing business courses. Additionally, these curriculums should require a basic understanding of critical infrastructure preparedness prior to graduation.

    As an adjunct professor who has taught both business and security management courses I’m recommending that the following courses incorporate emergency preparedness and homeland security content:
    1. Strategic management courses must include modules that address threat and vulnerability assessments. SWOT analysis would have a new meaning;
    2. International business courses must address the impact of terrorism and all hazards preparation and response in their design;
    3. Logistics and supply chain courses must have modules on supply chain security and compliance with U.S. and international security requirements;
    4. Human resource courses must integrate security management issues into their curriculum to include workplace violence, domestic and international terrorism, and emergency management;
    5. There should be mandatory courses in business continuity, crisis management, and the basic principles of homeland security to include ICS/NIMS. Business schools that do not have qualified faculty members to address these special topic courses should allow business students the opportunity to take these courses within other departments(criminal justice, security studies, and homeland security programs) located either within the university or at nearby educational institutions; and
    6. In order to better protect business entities from cyber attacks, students should be required to complete a basic course in IT security/information assurance.

    The benefits of requiring America’s business schools to take a leadership role in integrating critical infrastructure preparedness courses into existing business curriculums should be obvious. This return on investment will allow the private sector to develop a new group of leaders who are better prepared to make well-informed decisions on the allocation of corporate resources and monies needed to better protect the private infrastructures of the United States. Leading practitioners from the field of applied behavioral science and organizational development have estimated that it takes approximately 5 years to change the culture of an organization. If we could convince the deans of America’s business schools to take the actions necessary to re-imagine business management curriculums with the previously prescribed homeland security oriented courses we would be well on our way to developing a culture of critical infrastructure preparedness and protection by the year 2020.

    Ed Piper is an Adjunct Professor Johns Hopkins University/Carey School of Business.

    The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Guest Blogger: Re-imagining America’s Business School Curriculums

    1. Eric Magnuson says:

      So my wife, who is paying close to $90,000 to attend NYU's Stern School of Business, should take classes she has no interest in because an Adjunct Professor at a third – tier business school thinks she OUGHT to do so? Really, Ed, you write that with a straight – face? Collectivism never works, not even when wrapped in the flag.

      Heritage readers should recognize this is a self – serving article. John Hopkins is a good school, but Carey is a terrible MBA program and it not taken seriously. In fact, the school is not ranked by any of the major publications, including USNews, BusinessWeek or the Financial Times. That is why the university recently gutted the entire program and did a re – boot. Good programs do not need to do that. The fact that Ed Piper, who works for Carey, albeit as non – tenured professor, argues it is the "common good" to teach homeland security in business school is a bit transparent, don't 'cha think?

      If people are interested in this topic, they can get a Master's in International Affairs or a related field. Of course, that does not help Carey's business program or Ed Piper.

      Ask yourself this, if this was such a good idea, why is no credible school doing it? Because Ed is smarter than everyone else. Maybe….though I doubt it very much.

    2. Pingback: Law School Q&a | University Exam Results

    3. Bob Ludwig says:

      Ed Piper should submit his idea to the Graduate Management Admission Council Management Education for Tomorrow Fund's Ideas to Innovation Challenge http://www.gmac.com/gmac/aboutus/met-fund/ which is looking for ideas to improve gradaute management education.

      The contest, which is awarding a total of US$250,000 to 15 people, is getting responses from all over the world.

    4. Lewis Perelman says:

      The details of his proposal aside, Piper raises a fair question. Given that over 90% of all infrastructure is privately owned in the US and many other countries, should not business schools have some role in preparing managers to deal with potential threats and hazards that affect their own business as well as many others?

      As for Magnuson's ad hominem dismissal, consider that many business schools already have added "corporate social responsibility" (CSR) and "sustainability" subject matter to their curricula. See:

      http://www.matternetwork.com/2009/10/aspen-instit….

      http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/oct2….

      And note that the business schools pushing the CSR and sustainability agendas are not those Magnuson deems the dregs but include those he values as top ranked, including Stern.

      While there may be a case to be made for the value of the CSR/sustainability curricula, their essential premise is not to protect business/infrastructure from threats coming from the environment. Rather they aim to protect the environment from the threats supposedly posed by business and its infrastructure. One need only consider that BP for years was highly ranked on the lists of "sustainable" corporations, despite a record of poor safety practices and recurrent infrastructure disasters, to see that this bias poses a real problem.

      Is it not reasonable to suggest that effective management training programs take a more balanced approach, preparing managers to work out the conflicts and trade-offs between both agendas? For more on this issue, see:

      http://tinyurl/blue-green-clash.

    5. Bob Connors says:

      Completely agree. We struggle with this in the private sector as well. All leadership courses should have a crisis management element to them. Look at the crisis disaster the BP CEO was in addition to the spill itself.

      We provide critical thinking to business undergrads, but that's just a small piece of the crisis management training necessary.

      Good luck!

      Bob

    6. Ann, CA says:

      Ed you are correct. This type of action should be taken within schools at all levels. Former Secretary Chertoff felt it should begin at the K-12 level and become a cultural norm. However, I wanted to share that I personally know of a a couple of first tier post-secondary schools already incorporating this type of curriculum within their logistics program.

      With that said, a fatal — well documented — lesson learned continues to be the individual readiness and resiliency of those we are depending on to execute all those plans we make.

      Here is a blog that came out just this morning, Monday, August 30th, that I believe may be of value. The blog contains a link to a white paper that speaks to some of the core fundamental issues when we are talking about a secure-ready-and-resilient America.

      http://www.ice-pack.com/EP_news/2010/08/workplace

      Hope everyone enjoys!

      Ann

    7. Caroline Schroder, W says:

      Ed Piper raises critical issues. Competent managers, analysts and bankers need to understand how, when and why an organization, physical assets, intellectual property, and talent come under attack and the evolving means to identify, weather and rebound from attack and crisis. Crisis management had a vogue in the 1980's and largely disappeared amid the vogue for tech-style high growth beginning in the 1990's and the current fad for sustainability, eco-management and Green marketing. Managers and directors revert to the two dangerous mantras which get twisted to justify bad decisions and gambles:

      1. "A well run company does not have crises;" and

      2. "You have to take risk to make money."

      Every so often risk management comes into vogue, for a quarter or two, until people remember that thinking is hard and risk analysis may keep them from doing all that they want to do.

      Every business will experience crises; those businesses and managers that refuse to analyze this are doomed to have more crises than others. Every business graduate should understand how to identify and prevent incipient crises and how to manage and resolve the active crisis. There would be far less litigation and far fewer disasters. In the cyber age amid international terrorism, understanding of cyber security, social engineered breeches, and terrorism from physical to biological threat should be the mature concern of every intelligent and responsible manager.

      An MBA and other business degrees are not awarded for free choice individualistic surveys of interests for personal goals: business degrees are certifications of competence to analyze and run "sustainable" businesses. Every future manager, banker and analyst should not only have to take relevant courses but should want to take the courses out of a sense of future responsibility apart from the potential for future personal income and gain. I would argue that competent lawyers should be taking these courses in law school as well. No one would go to a doctor who decided to skip pathology because it was not very interesting. No business should hire a manager, banker or analyst who does not understand crisis and what causes, prevents and resolves it.

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