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A glimpse into the future of executive education

December 14, 2021

Executive development is open to innovation and redesign, writes Mihnea Moldoveanu in a new book.

Executive development programs are in a period of rapid transformation, driven by digital disruption and a widening gap between the skills that are in demand and those provided by programs.

What does the evolving role of executive education look like? How can business schools and other providers adapt to be invaluable to leaders and their organizations?

In a new book, The Future of Executive Development, Rotman Prof. Mihnea Moldoveanu and co-author Harvard Business School Prof. Das Narayandas delve into these questions.

Mihnea Moldoveanu

“No executive would attend an education program if the only benefits it offered were social signaling, networking opportunities or interesting conversations — in spite of the real value these entail,” write Moldoveanu and Narayandas.

Executives yearn for skill development that can be measured and credibly signaled. The book provides a road map to identifiable, measurable and valuable executive skills — as opposed to subjects and topics by which programs are more commonly indexed.

“Think of an executive’s role as a bundle of executive skills, not a list of things they should know about or words they can pronounce in conversation to persuade someone they know something,” says Moldoveanu.

Many executive education providers only track participants’ satisfaction with the programs — which may include self-reported measures of skill acquisition — but they don’t educate respondents about what kinds of skills there are, or how they can be observed, identified and measured.

“Organizations believe that the programs they have funded have failed if executives don’t use most of all of the new skills they’re supposed to have acquired when they return to work,” the authors write.

Published by Stanford University Press, the book offers a guide for executive education program teams to advance their curriculum. It is also a compass to executive development to companies that invest in executive development programs for their leaders.

“Selecting programs on the basis of useful skill demonstrably provided — not by academic topic covered — is a heuristic companies can no longer afford to ignore,” Moldoveanu and Narayandas write.

The book is meant to function as a guide for optimizing the learning production function for both skill acquisition and skill transfer — the two charges that the new skills economy has laid out for any educational enterprise.

“The future of executive development is open — to innovation, redesign and re-configuration — in ways it has not been in the past.”

Written by Jessie Park | More Faculty Research Profiles »

Meet the Researcher

Mihnea Moldoveanu

Marcel Desautels Professor of Integrative Thinking

Director, Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking

Professor of Economic Analysis and Policy

Read his full biography →