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Alternative models of collegiate business education: their validity and implications.

Higher education in business has had an interesting, albeit brief, history in the United States (McKenna, 1989). The forces of change that have impacted collegiate level business education have, in some instances, been evolutionary. In other instances, the academy has responded to criticism leveled by respected authors in the popular and academic press (c.f., Jennings, 1994; Putka, 1995). Finally, in a third set of instances, a more planned and structured change has resulted from the actions of the principal accrediting body, the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

In the Spring, 1985 issue of the California Management Review Earl Cheit (then Dean of the School of Business at U.C. Berkeley) summarized and responded to the criticisms and changes that were impacting collegiate level business education. Cheit noted that the early roots of business education grew out of a highly vocational, skill focused training regime. It was his belief that only with the publication of the Pierson (1959) and Gordon and Howell reports (1959) did business education begin to find some legitimacy, within the University.

Several writers have also observed the crucial importance of prestige/legitimacy in the academic community (see Caplow and McGee, 1958; Thompson/1967). The quest for legitimacy was quite implicit in the reports of Pierson (1959) and Gordon and Howell (1959). Basically, academic prestige is a way of acquiring power and the fostering of prestigious images is widely evident among universities (Thompson, 1967). However, with the development of academically legitimate AACSB accreditation standards, a new concern has arisen, one involving the relevancy of business school education. This issue ultimately led Cheit to conclude that business schools face a dual responsibility. On the one hand, they must give consideration to the academic audiences of which they are inevitably a part, while on the other hand, they also must seek to meet the often conflicting needs of professional audiences for whom they train students.

Cheit's concern and later the concern of Porter and McKibbin (1988) and Jennings (1994) was that business schools had become so successful academically and so far removed from their professional constituencies that they failed to understand and address problems of concern to business. In other words, business schools were training graduates to be technical specialists with quantitative and theoretical tools but with little capacity to really do the hands-on job of leading people. In order to better understand this lack of relevancy in collegiate business education, Cheit proposed two explanatory models.


Cheit maintained that business schools, being accountable to both professional and academic audiences, should consider the simultaneous pursuit of two models: academic and professional. The academic model treats the field of business as a science; its objective is to develop in students habits of mind and analytic competence that will be useful in analyzing future problems that are today unknown. In this model, the function of a manager is to allocate the organization's resources to maximize long-term value using sophisticated decision-making models. Faculty who subscribe to the academic model emphasize graduate instruction and have little relationship with the business community.

Alternatively, the professional model is essentially "field driven," or responsive to the perceived needs of the business community. This model challenges faculty to work with students in helping them deal with developing judgment in resolving complex and unstructured practical problems. In the professional model setting, linkages with the professional community are critical and faculty regularly pursue consulting and executive development activities. Research, while not as critical as in the academic model, supports the investigation Of applied problems of current concern to managers.

Cheit maintained that business schools should not choose one model to the exclusion of the alternative. Rather, schools should seek to maintain an appropriate balance between the two. In essence, schools of business would differ with regard to the degree of emphasis placed on each of the two approaches. Cheit stated that "it is appropriate, therefore, to think of high and low levels of attainment for both models" (1985: 55).

Cheit indicated that a business school should not have a low weighting on the academic model, regardless of a school's weighting on the professional model. To illustrate this, Cheit presented the historical and then current (1984) positionings of business schools (see Figure I) and he noted locations in Figure I that were inappropriate. He called these locations the "null set" and they encompass the lower portion of the academic dimension. Cheit's graphical portrayal established the null set at or below the 25th percentile (1985: 55).


As Dean at the research-oriented University of California, Berkeley, it may have been difficult for Cheit to imagine circumstances in which a business program might properly place relatively little emphasis on academics: the production of new knowledge. On the other hand, there are certainly many campuses in the United States which are essentially vendors of knowledge produced elsewhere, whose missions include little or no commitment to the advancement of the body of knowledge. Would having an almost totally professional orientation be a drawback at these campuses? Would the deans of business at these campuses agree with Cheit's null set? Possibly not.

Conversely, one could predict that executives might describe business schools which place almost no emphasis on the professional dimension as being within an alternative "null set." When business schools received most of their funding from the university, they may have been able to ignore the preferences of the business community. However, current trends requiring universities to find more nongovernmental funding sources (i.e., grants, gifts, bequests) may lead to recognition of a null set where too little emphasis is placed on the professional dimension.

Despite these current concerns, Cheit has noted that every business school employs aspects of both the academic and professional models and, consciously or not, develops its own approach in following them. Still, Cheit provided no empirical validation for the models: their existence and functioning is merely intuitive.

This study sought to determine whether Cheits models are correct; that is, do his academic and professional models of business education exist? If they do, then theorizing about these models would be enhanced. For example, is a "low academic/high professional" orientation to be avoided at all costs? According to Cheit (1985), such a positioning is inappropriate as it is inconsistent with the aims of the academy.

One way to assess the validity of these alleged dimensions is to relate them to other variables to determine if they meet hypothesized expectations. If they do, then nomological validity is in evidence (Peter. 1981). Such validation would in turn support other construct validation efforts (e.g., criterion validation, as well as assessments of convergent and discriminant validity). All too often our theories and models, once proposed, used and published, take on a rather "sacred or inviolate existence all their own ... [and] are rarely, if ever, examined or questioned" (Jacob), 1978: 91). It is, therefore, our purpose to empirically validate Cheit's models.


Our stud), had business school deans report the respective locations of their schools on the academic and professional dimensions. Additionally, it asked their beliefs and values on 28 variables that manifest the inherent trade-offs between the two models, or address academic and professional concerns, It was our contention that business school deans who were pursuing the academic model to a high degree and the professional model to a lesser degree would have different beliefs and values than deans who were pursuing the professional model to a high degree and the academic model to a lesser degree. If such contrasts revealed unique beliefs and values that were associated with each of the two groupings of deans, then the academic and professional models of business education as defined by Cheat would demonstrate nomological validation.

Population Surveyed

Earlier investigations of accreditation matters and of future directions for business schools have utilized the views of deans as predictive (Cotton et al., 1993; Van Auken, 1992; Van Auken et al., 1903). Consistent with this emphasis, all deans of AACSB accredited schools (n = 272), and all deans of (nonaccredited) associate member schools (n = 292), were surveyed.

Data Collection Process

All deans in the sample were mailed a package containing a cover letter, the below described questionnaire, and a postage-paid return envelope. From the original wave of questionnaires, 207 usable responses were received (36.7% response). To bolster the return rate, a second questionnaire was mailed. An additional 61 responses were received, for a total of 268 (47.5% response).

Of the 268 respondents, 133 deans (49.6%) were from accredited schools and 135 deans (50.4%) were from nonaccredited schools. The AACSB sample of schools was also found to be representative of the universe of AACSB schools with respect to the presence of a doctoral pro. gram. The sample possessed 41 doctoral programs as contrasted to the universe value of 100. Chi square analysis revealed that these values were not significantly different ([X.sup.2] = 1.39, 1 d.f., p [is greater than] .0.5). All in all, the sample of AACSB deans does not appear to be independent of the AACSB population. Still, a lack of data on the universe characteristics of AACSB associate members precluded such an assessment for the associates' sample.


Direct Measures

Consistent with Cheit's (1985) assertions, the academic and professional models of business education were viewed as separate dimensions. They were measured by using a zero to 100% scale for each hypothesized dimension and by having business school deans assess the location of their school on each of these two constructs. Respondents were asked to mark an "X" in a Cartesian space to indicate the relative emphasis their schools placed on the two dimensions. To facilitate the making of these judgments, descriptions of the academic and professional models were presented on the questionnaire. The Cartesian space that was presented to respondents may be seen in Figure I. Of course, the space they saw was clear of dated inserts and no reference was made to the null set.

This research was based on an assumption that responding deans would demonstrate consistency between the point on the Cartesian space that they marked and their attitudes regarding issues central to higher education in business. This assumption was based on the following reasons: First, maintaining this consistency would help to reduce dissonance experienced by deans. Second, colleges of business would select deans who reflected values held by their faculty and administration. Finally, deans would consciously seek to join and/or mold programs that reflected their particular value structure.

Indirect Measures

To provide the basis for an assessment of nomological validity, 28 academic and professional belief and value statements were developed for analysis. These seven-point Liken scale statements appear in Table 1 and were selected because they appeared to conceptually relate to the academic and professional models of business education. Moreover, these variables have also been subject to debate and controversy within business schools, especially with regard to the inherent trade, offs between the two models. These 28 variables were drawn from the following categories of interest: research (4 items); teaching (3); curriculum (12); the business community (2); the AACSB (4); and macro concerns (3). Of course, many of the items relate to more than one of the delineated categories and categorical assignments were based on an item's primary orientation.


Research. With respect to research, three themes were selected. One of them related to the impact of research, while another addressed the relevancy of business research to the business community. The third theme addressed the academic roots inherent in the field of Total Quality Management (TQM). Porter and McKibbin (1988) have investigated the former, as well as Van Auken et al. (1993). Cheit (1985) has written about the utility of both basic and applied research and, among others, Grayson et al. (1977), Hastie (1982), Miles (1985), Oviatt and Miller (1989), and Rehder et al. (1988) have indicated a concern for research relevancy. Overall, the issue of research relevancy may be viewed differentially by deans with an explicit academic orientation versus a professional model focus. Further, the issue of TQM's academic roots was developed by the authors to more fully explore this emerging area of inquiry.

Teaching. Three items with a manifest teaching orientation were selected to essentially measure the relationship between writing/research and state-of-the art teaching. This theme has appeared in the addresses of Bausch (Newsline 1987) and Taylor (Decision Line, 1989). Still, Porter and McKibbin (1988) note that scholarly activity which prepares a faculty member to be a better teacher is not necessarily publishing in academic journals. In sum, a school's model orientation should relate to these issues in the theoretically expected way.

Curriculum. Numerous curricula issues were selected for study including the focus of doctoral programs (Jaedicke, 1989; Miles, 1985); the relationship between research and new curriculum development (Business Week, November 28, 1988: Porter and McKibbin, 1988): curriculum relevancy (Business Week, August 27, 1984; Fuchsberg, 1990; Grayson and Hanson, 1977; Miles, 1987/88; Swartz, 1985); experiential learning (Exchange, 1989); value creation (Cheit, 1985; Leavitt, 1987); the over-emphasis on analytics (Behrman and Levin, 1984; Business Week, November 28, 1988; McGill, 1988); and integrative curricula (Behrman and Levin, 1984; Leven, 1988). These topical areas appear to be important with respect to perceived differences between schools with differential attainment levels for both the academic and professional models of business education.

Business Community. Two issues were selected which dealt explicitly with the business community. One involved the relationship between academic respectability and withdrawal from the business community, while the other dealt with the need for a quid pro quo relationship with the business community; These issues have been addressed by Cheit (1985) and Oviatt and Miller(1989), and they denote inherent conflict between the academic and professional models of business education. It may be hypothesized that schools with a professional emphasis are better positioned for relationships with the business community, while the academic model would denote more of a focus on theory building.

The AACSB. Three roues relating to the AACSB were selected for study. They included the blending of theory with practice (Cheit, 1985) and doctoral program accreditation (Jaedicke, 1989), as well as skill development (Behrman and Levin, 1984; Fuchsberg, 1990; Hayes and Abernathy, 1980; Rehder and Porter, 1983; Van Auken, 1991). These issues relate to a school's academic versus professional interests. For example, one might find greater sympathy for skill development among schools following a professional model.

Macro Issues. Finally, two issues relating to a school's predominant orientation were developed for study. One of them dealt with the academic model, while the other dealt with managerial leadership, more of a professional focus (Cheit, 1985; Oviatt and Miller, 1989). These dimensions appear to be associated with a school's primary emphasis and they were selected for that reason.


The Criterion Measure

To address the criterion variable issue for the establishment of nomological validity, deans, regardless of their schools' accreditation status, were separated into three groups. In one group were deans (n = 79) who scored either equal to or above the reported median (median = 50.0%) on the academic model dimension and below the median (median = 50.0%) on the professional model dimension. In the second group were deans (n = 110) who scored equal to or above the reported median on the professional model dimension and below the median on the academic model dimension. By developing these groups, a clearer perspective into the alternative models of business education may be obtained.

The third group consisted of deans who scored above the median for both the academic and professional models, as well as deans who scored below the median on each dimension. Using data-partitioning procedures from Weiss and Adler (1981), the deletion of this third group of deans was a necessary precursor to relating the beliefs and values of deans to the delineated deans' groupings. This is because the presence of shared models would serve to obscure model validation through nomological means, In essence, the beliefs and values of the deleted deans should be split between the two models, hence we would not expect our beliefs and values variables to discriminate between them. Hence, the study's validation occurs under special and restricted conditions.

Factor Analysis

To reduce the 28 belief and values variables to a more manageable number and to handle the problem of intercorrelated predictors, these variables were subjected to a factor analysis with varimax rotation. The results revealed the presence of eight factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.0. These eight factors accounted for 56.9% of the variance within the sample data set.

Table 1 portrays the factor loadings for each variable on the first two factors, which have been labeled the "academic" and "professional" models, respectively. The remaining six factors denoted constructs which conceptually relate to the academic and professional models and encompass the following: "experiential learning," "conceptual concern," "TQM support," "teaching relevancy," "curriculum breadth," and "theory and practice." Despite the emergence of eight factors, the academic and professional model factors served to validate the initial selection of the belief and value variables and were viewed as primary for the establishment of nomological validity.

ANOVA Application

To assess whether the eight factors would discriminate between the two deans' groupings (i.e., the predominantly academic group and the predominately professional group), a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was run on the factor scores for each of the eight factors. These factor scores reveal how each dean scored on each factor. For example, Positive factor scores indicate that the dean in question scored above the sample average on a given factor, while negative factor scores indicate the reverse. Since the factor scores have been standardized to a mean of zero and unit variance, the higher the absolute magnitude of the factor score the greater the above/below average response, conditioned, of course, by the score's directional sign.

Table 2 presents the results of the ANOVA application, it reveals that both the academic and professional models of business education do in fact discriminate between the two deans' groupings. As can be seen in Table 2, the academic model (factor one) is statistically significant at the .01 alpha level, while the professional model (factor two) produced a .02 alpha valuation. Further, the mean scores are consistent with the expected directionality. For example, deans from the academic grouping score above the sample average (mean = .22) on the academic model and, deans from the professional grouping score below the sample average (mean = -.16).

 Mean Scores Univariate Probability

FACTORS Academic Professional F
 Group Group

1. Academic Model .22 -.16 6.83 .0097
2. Professional
 Model -.21 .15 6.05 .0148
3. Experiential
 Learning .01 -.01 0.03 .8693
4. Conceptual
 Concern -.09 .07 1.19 .2761
5. TQM Support -.04 .03 0.21 .6446
6. Teaching
 Relevancy .13 -.10 2.47 .1177
7. Curriculum
 Breadth -.12 .09 2.01 .1579
8. Theory and
 Practice -.02 .02 0.07 .7964

The remaining six factors did not significantly differ between the two groups. These factors, when contrasted to the academic and professional model factors, account for 49.6% of the remaining factor variance and they denote more of a specific belief and value focus. A further inspection of these nonstatistically significant factors reveals that three of them match the expected sign directionality: teaching relevancy (mean = .13 for the academic group and mean = -.10 for the professional group, p [is less than] .12), curriculum breadth (mean = -.16 for the academic group and mean = .09 for the professional group, p [is less than] .16), and conceptual concern (mean = -.09 for the academic group and mean = .07 for the professional group, p [is less than] .28), while the remaining nonstatistically significant factors are virtually identical for the two groupings.

In an overall sense, the ANOVA analysis suggested that the primary models (academic and professional) were; nomologically validated, as they matched a priori expectations. However, the secondary and supportive factors did not lend themselves to a similar outcome. To some degree this could be explained by the fact that they were only peripherally related to the academic and professional models. Moreover, these secondary and tertiary factors were not viewed as being central to the focus of this research.

The authors of this study recognize the limitations of the current research. Respondent self-selection may present certain biases in sample perceptions and characteristics. Additionally, since we only surveyed schools that were fully accredited by the AACSB or had associate member status, our focus was on about one-half of all collegiate business programs in the U.S.


Cheit proposed that collegiate business schools serve two masters. That is, they need to attain and maintain legitimacy in the eyes of both the academy and the professional business community. Although Cheit felt that schools could develop differential emphases between the two models, no validation of the models' existence has yet occurred. The present study has sought to fill this void. To accomplish this end, deans of business schools were surveyed--they were; asked to identify the emphases placed at their school on both the academic and professional models. In addition, the deans responded to a total of 28 belief and value items designed to assess their opinions on topics related to the academic versus professional dilemma.

The resulting factors, which emanated

from a factor analysis of the 28 belief and value variables, were assessed as to their ability to distinguish among deans with a predominately academic orientation and those from a predominately professional orientation. The factors denoting the academic and the professional models were found to vary significantly between the two groupings of deans and with the expected directionality. The resulting discriminations suggest that the academic and professional models of business education do in fact exist. Further, the validation is supported by the fact that deans from AACSB accredited schools disproportionately favor the academic model (70.9%) while deans from nonaccredited schools disproportionately favor the professional model (68.2%). These findings are statistically significant ([X.sup.2] = 28.11, 1 d.f. p [is less than] .001) and also meet one's intuitive expectations.

Sixty deans positioned their school in CheWs null set (i.e., low academic emphasis) as defined by a [is less than or equal to] 25th percentile position. It is interesting to note that of these 60 deans, 12 had been accredited under the earlier AACSB standards. Further, it may now be possible for other schools in the null set position to achieve full accreditation. Pre-1994 standards required all schools under review for accreditation to attain a minimal level of scholarly achievement. This achievement was typically expressed through refereed publications and conference proceedings (baccalaureate-only programs were permitted lower standards). In contrast, the new standards count nonrefereed publications and instructional development as scholarly contributions, permitting accreditation at the 25th Percentile of academic emphasis or below.

It should also be noted that there are other forces which are reinforcing gravitation toward the null set position of Cheit's model. In some instances drastic reductions in state funding have drawn colleges of business closer to the business community for financial support. These linkages bring with them the responsibility of focusing on student preparation and consulting activities, while the advancement of basic research may suffer neglect.

As a further note, it is interesting to consider the role of a newly formed accrediting body. The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) was formed a few years ago as an alternative to the AACSB and to date has accredited a number of schools and colleges of business, including some community colleges. It could be argued that at least some of the motivation behind the AACSB's revision of their old generally uniform standards was linked to the competitive threat Posed by the ACBSP. Clearly, the ACBSP might welcome to candidacy programs that cannot meet the minimum requirements of AACSB accreditation and will certify, after a meeting of criteria, the academic legitimacy of an even greater number of null set schools of business.

Overall, null set participation is made possible by the AACSB's new accreditation strategy that is based on a program's own statement of mission. This statement of mission must also reflect the orientation and focus of the larger university as well as the student composition of the program. The new AACSB strategy infers that business schools largely in the business of educating undergraduates will need to become more professionally driven In their scholarship, while programs that place a larger emphasis on graduate (and specifically doctoral) education will need to emphasize more academically focused scholarship and basic research (Final Report, 1991).

With the above stated mission focus, the AACSB may be asking programs under review to make conscious choices as to emphasis. Programs will be encouraged and rewarded for pursuing that course which is directed toward their particular mission, and reflects their capabilities and strengths.


The fact that over twenty percent of our respondents indicated a pattern that placed them in the null set is worthy of note. As seductive as this position may be, it reflects potential problems on the academic horizon. Such positionings may help to renew the debate regarding professionalism and scholarship (see Caplow, 1958; Gordon and Howell, 1959). This debate essentially relates to the conflict between market forces and scientific rigor and has been summarized by Ray Miles when interviewed by Schmotter as follows:

At one level we are market driven. We try

to build programs that are attractive. If we

do not, we will not have any constituents.

We are all trying to build institution that

will be recognized for their value to business

and society. But it is possible in the

search for attractiveness to become so enmeshed

in the existing issues of the day that

one does not apply scientific rigor to them.

This approach may inform, but it does not

enhance understanding (1987: 15).

Basically, should a AACSB accredited business school be allowed to merely disseminate knowledge without contributing to basic business research? Under the earlier (pre-1994) accreditation standards, the answer was no. However, this may be more acceptable under the new mission driven approach. Under this standard, schools may be encouraged and expected to make choices between the academic and professional models in order to achieve accreditation. If this becomes the case, we may ultimately see a devaluation of the academic prestige of AACSB accreditation, as well as major and significant shifts in the nature and direction of higher education in business in this country.

Our findings, however, only provide a single coordinate for the validation of the existence of the academic and professional models of business education. As a result, additional research is necessary. As Cronbach (1971) notes, a single study does not establish validity. Given greater confidence in the academic and professional roots of business education, the implications of the two models may be more fully developed and advanced, especially the appropriateness of positioning a business school within the null set location. The resulting debate may result in the creation of alternative levels of AACSB accreditation, or even the establishment of a more academically focused accreditation agency for business education. Regardless, the debate will be fueled by the academic and professional dimensions of business education. Proof of their existence is the beginning requirement and we hope that our study will foster the necessary validation that will allow for well grounded introspective looks into business education.

(*) The authors would like to thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions in the revision of this manuscript.


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Stuart Van Auken Professor of Marketing California State University, Chico

Chester C. Cotton Professor of Management California State University, Chico

John F. McKenna Professor of Management California State University, Chico
COPYRIGHT 1996 Pittsburg State University - Department of Economics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Auken, Stuart van; Cotton, Chester C.; McKenna, John F.
Publication:Journal of Managerial Issues
Date:Sep 22, 1996
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