Student Attitudes


Where Will They Lead? 2008

MBA Student Attitude Research in China


Download the PDF of the Executive Summary here


In the Fall, 2007 the Aspen Institute's Center for Business Education, in collaboration with Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, conducted the first-ever survey of MBA students at 14 leading Chinese business schools. The survey, which was very similar in content to the survey conducted at the same time in leading western business schools, was designed to:


"  assess how today's MBA students in China see the role of business in society;

"  learn how they view their individual responsibilities as managers;

"  explore how MBA education and culture shapes their attitudes.


Results from the survey show that Chinese business students – like their counterparts in the west - believe that a well-run company adheres to a strong mission, operates according to its values and a strong code of ethics and adheres to progressive environmental policies.


However, it also demonstrated that these students see socially responsible business practices primarily as benefiting a company's reputation rather than as contributing to bottom line results – like reducing costs and risk or leading to increased revenues for the firm. 78% cite “a better public image/reputation” as a key benefit, while only 3% cite “increased revenue.”



Other findings:


When it comes to identifying challenges to CEOs, Chinese students see lack of investor confidence, corporate scandal and breakdown in trust between employees and management as areas of concern. They are also much more likely than western students to cite challenges coming from increased activism on the part of environmental and social advocacy groups.


"  Although over 40% of students say their business school is preparing them “a lot” to manage values conflict, just 27% strongly agree that they are learning to analyze the potential impact of their decision on all stakeholders and just 19% strongly agree that they have opportunities to practice ethical/responsible decision making as part of their MBA programs.


"  What are students looking for in their jobs post-graduation? Compensation and opportunities for training and development. Though trained at leading business schools in China , only 27% of survey respondents strongly agree that their employment prospects upon completion of the MBA are very good. And there is a significant disparity between men and women, with 31% of men and 19% of women strongly agreeing with this statement.


"  Students are very interested in having a positive impact on society during their careers, but few choose that option ahead of baseline job concerns such as compensation, career development and skill development, in the first few years after receiving an MBA.


Like their western counterparts, Chinese MBA students feel that recruiters are primarily looking for candidates with functional industry expertise. They also feel that personal integrity and how well a candidate understands current sociopolitical issues are not highly valued by recruiters.


The schools and universities that participated in this survey include:


"  Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business

"  China Europe International Business School

"  Dalian University of Technology

"  Fudan University

"  Peking University

"  Renmin University of China

"  Shanghai Jiaotong University

"  Sun Yat-sen University

"  Tsinghua University

"  University of Hong Kong

"  University of International Business and Economics

"  Xiamen University

"  Zhejiang University

"  Zhongnan University of Economics and Law


The principal Chinese researchers on this project were Yang Dongning from the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University and Qi Dongping from Renmin University Business School . Other organizations that contributed to the report included SynTao and LWL IT Service/Consulting team at Guanghua School of Management at Peking University .


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