Management education by the French Grandes Ecoles de Commerce

Michael Harker, Niki Hynes, Barbara Caemmerer

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This essay presents a comprehensive briefing on the past and present of a business educational culture that is significantly different in ethos and structure to the widely known systems in the US and UK. That is the history and culture of the French Grandes Ecoles de Commerce. A brief reminder of extant literature on the utility of business education and its seeming misalignment with the competencies and skills as specified by practitioners is then given. Key pressures and trends on and within this system – such as internationalisation, accreditation and a greater emphasis on publications are identified and discussed. These threads are then combined in a partial replication of the work of Dierdorff and Rubin (2006; 2009). Specifically, collated information on 1582 classes from 542 programmes at the top Grandes Ecoles de Commerce is presented alongside further secondary data and then analysed in respect of alignment with Rubin and Dierdorff’s identified behavioural competencies.

We argue that the outcome of these pressures may well be that inherent and historical strengths of great value are being discarded, and that the degree of irrelevance and misalignment between educational provision and required managerial competence will stay the same or even get worse.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Learning and Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Jun 2015


  • France behavioural competencies
  • business schools
  • pedagogy
  • practice
  • accreditation
  • Grandes Ecoles
  • behavioural competencies


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