THE GROUND-UP REDEVELOPMENT OF A FOUR-YEAR UNDERGRADUATE MANAGEMENT STUDIES DEGREE
Waikato Management School has run a highly-successful four-year business management degree for over thirty years (the Bachelor of Management Studies). In 2016, the University of Waikato embarked on a programme of curriculum enhancement that entailed significant structural and pedagogical changes to its suite of undergraduate degrees. As a result of the curriculum changes a new three-year Bachelor of Business (BBus) was introduced at the end of 2017. This new qualification included a similar broad base of general business and management papers within the core of the degree. Unsurprisingly, many students have selected the three-year degree offering in preference to the four-year degree, which has the potential to render the ongoing viability of the four-year degree questionable and necessitating its redevelopment.
In this paper, we report on the ongoing redevelopment of the Bachelor of Management Studies into a four-year honours-only programme of study (BMS(Hons)), sitting alongside but building on the three-year BBus. The re-developed four-year BMS(Hons) maintains a core of general management and discipline-specific content, but adds significant components of work-integrated learning, international experience, and industry placement or work-integrated learning. This approach builds on the dynamic capabilities framework of David Teece, but also includes substantial content that is relevant to the local situation and the strategic areas of research expertise of Waikato Management School.
The redevelopment has undergone several rounds of feedback from staff, senior leadership, students, and the School’s business advisory board. The resulting programme of study will include papers that cover transferable and interpersonal skills including managing people and projects, communication and negotiation, using data for decisions, business ethics and managing risk, and futures thinking. This range of skills will complement the general management and discipline-specific skills that students will also build over their course of study.
However, the redevelopment has also had to grapple with a number of difficult balancing acts, including avoiding generating the perception that the three-year BBus degree is an inferior offering, while at the same time creating an expectation that the four-year BMS(Hons) offers significant additional value for students. This balance is especially important given that the BMS(Hons) will only be available to a limited cohort of selected students and will include group mentoring by industry executives that is not available to BBus students.
Finally, we discuss our experiences to date with the redevelopment and our hopes for the future of the programme, as well as learnings for other business schools that may seek to develop a similar programme.