During the past several years we have seen a radical transformation of the
needs of higher-level management. Organizations have continued, not only
to grow, but also to diversify, to decentralize, to shift their mode of functioning
to accommodate new kinds of competition. As a result, there has
been an increasing demand for executives to function at a higher level of
abstraction, to conceive of what they are doing in a historical context, to
recognize the effects of what they accomplish on the community, and
therefore to be governed by a concept of sound business policy.
Thus, people moving into higher level roles are required to be more flexible,
more sophisticated, more knowledgeable, to have a historical sense of what
they are doing, to have some awareness of the impact of what they are
achieving both on their organizations as well as on society, and to exercise
effective judgement in consultation with others who work with them. This
means that higher level executives, who frequently come from technical environments,
are desparately in need of sophisticated training.
The role of South African Business Schools in providing this training, is examined
in some detail. Questions on how they should go about this task,
what should be taught, whether it should be theory, practice or a combination
of these that should be taught, are asked and discussed in some detail.