I recently had the opportunity to consider just what constitutes the core curriculum of an MBA program. For starters, the concept of an MBA education was “imported” from the West, where it has a history going back over 100 years. Therefore, MBA programs must meet the criteria used in the region from where the concept was imported. This is why the term “Japanese-style MBA” makes me uneasy; even if these programs meet the original standards and add new elements based on unique interpretations of the MBA concept, seeing these programs dub themselves “Japanese-style MBAs” and whip up new curricula out of thin air demonstrates their own short-sightedness.
In order to achieve the mission statements set forth by business schools, MBA programs are expected to establish learning achievement goals and create curricula that are capable of fulfilling them. The agency that certifies business schools defines 13 core competencies that should serve as the foundation of the human resource training ideals that an MBA education should pursue. Even top schools such as INSEAD, IMD, and LBS are obligated to cover all of these core competencies with their compulsory courses. It is also expected that these programs will adjust their curricula based on annual evaluations of how well their learning achievement goals are being addressed by their lectures. These requirements form the starting point for designing an MBA program.