MBA quality : an examination of stakeholder perspectives
The research project is set within the context of the ongoing debate regarding the quality of MBA programmes in the UK and contextualizes and articulates the concerns regarding the quality of MBA programmes emanating from within and outside the teaching profession. The MBA environment in the UK is examined in detail and both typologies of MBA programmes and the strategies of MBA providers are discussed. The provision of the MBA in the UK is set within the context of the wider higher education quality debate. The relevance of prevailing quality theory and commercial quality models as ways of enhancing MBA programme quality are evaluated, and quality perspectives of key MBA stakeholders are compared. There is also an exploration of the means by which MBA Directors exploit the notion of quality in order to achieve their personal organisational goals. The notion that quality theory can best be understood as a form of anxiety relieving, 'religious' phenomena is discussed. The ontological and epistemological position taken within the study is explained and the issues surrounding the measurement of attitudes are examined. Three groups of MBA stakeholders: MBA Directors, prospective MBA students and practising MBA students are questioned with regard to their views on MBA quality using a mixture of interviews and critical incident technique. The resulting data are subjected to content analysis. The contribution to knowledge can be seen in terms of the results that indicate that individual MBA Directors operate a variety of quality perspectives, depending upon the particular circumstances, and use different ways of communicating their quality vision and ensuring programme quality. Prospective students undertake programmes for numerous reasons, and make their final programme choices in line with the way in which their expectations meet their perceptions of the programmes they are considering. The findings also indicate a strong relationship between satisfaction and expectations with regard to practising MBA students. In conclusion, the various stakeholder perspectives are compared and a series of 'quality gaps' are presented and discussed. Suggestions are subsequently made regarding possible future research.