We suggest using the following criteria to make the best choice for an executive education programme (listed by order of importance).
1 – Return on investment
«For anyone investing in executive education the most important question is that of measuring the benefits of such a course. Although difficult to assess, there are means with which to address the issue…» in «Which executive programme?» EIU – The Economist Intelligence Unit, fourth edition, 2001
To be able to assess the return on the investment, the brochure of the programme should be clear about the benefits for the individual and about the benefits for the organization. In that sense, it is worthwhile concentrating the company’s investment in as few programmes and providers as possible in order to increase the provider’s knowledge about the organization and the strategic reason for sending your employees to those particular programmes. It is important to check whether the school offers both preparation before the programme and post-programme analysis and other kinds of follow-up actions. This is also a good way to make sure that you are perfectly clear about the business or career-development issues to be addressed by the participant in the programme.
2 – Length of the programme
Shorter programmes are increasingly favoured in today’s business environment but again it all depends on the objectives underlying the registration of a participant in a particular programme. Longer programmes offer more time to gain new, particularly soft skills, to link together multidisciplinary skills or to go deeper into hard skills or specific, technical ones like finance or strategic thinking. When offered in a modular structure, they also offer time in between modules to experiment and apply what has been taught in earlier modules. It goes without saying that relationships between participants and members of faculty on a longer programme are more likely to last longer.
3 – Content and Faculty
Even for similar courses, Executive Education programmes are obviously not perfectly substitutable products. Approaches from one school can significantly differ from another, and will meet participants’ goals to varying degrees. Also, no Faculty is identical. If you want to participate in a class led by Rob Goffee, you can only go to London Business School. If you want to hear C.K. Prahalad, considered as number one thinker in the 2007 global ranking of business thinkers, you will have few choices but to go to the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Also in relation to Faculty, it should be kept in mind that a high rating in research and publication does not always guarantee a high rating in teaching, although all top-ranked business schools are of course competing to have the best teachers in their programmes.
4 – Culture, location, technology and facilities
Again, even though we are only considering in this report the very best of international business schools, studying for example in central London is not the same as doing so in Fontainebleau. Each school has its own ambience and culture, and will be better or worse fitted to a participant’s particular taste. Also, distance to travel, accommodation and facilities available can all have an impact on the ease or difficulty of going to a particular school. To assess these criteria, the best way to get information is to talk to past participants of the programme of your choice (more information on this).
5 – Networking and International exposure
Another important benefit in sending employees to open enrolment programmes is the opportunity to meet and work alongside managers from different organizations, sectors and national cultures. Depending on your own organization, you may want to review the client list of the school to check if these fit well. In many cases, contacts made during a programme last for several years and sometimes lead to business opportunities for the company and very often to increasing the participant’s network of contacts.
6 – Price
Not surprisingly, the last criterion to consider is price. Prices usually do not differ significantly between schools for similar programmes and duration. Of course, accommodation and travel cost must be considered and sometimes wide variations in exchange rates can point to very tempting bargains, as in the last few years with the US dollar and more recently with the UK pound. In any event, we believe that the long-term benefits associated with keeping a durable relationship with a few schools or with choosing the best-suited programme for the participant’s objectives outweigh by far the shorter-term benefits of cherry picking the cheapest programmes available at any time.
source & further reading: «Which executive programme?» EIU – The Economist Intelligence Unit, fourth edition, 2001