26th Annual Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education Meeting

Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Francisco J. Valle, Ph.D., Anatoly Zhuplev, Ph.D., José J. Rincón, M.B.A., M.L.S., Max Plithides, Ph.D. Candidate

Jesuit B-Schools in the Competitive Landscape of American Higher Education

Our study examines Jesuit business education in the U.S. in the evolutionary context of emerging trends, drivers, and strategic disruptors affecting the higher education industry in general. Within this context, we explore similarities and differences among American institutions of higher education. Our study identifies the strategic opportunities and challenges that several major trends and dynamics are producing in the U.S. higher education market place including: • Stagnant demographics suppressing student enrollment levels and causing an increased reliance on international students who generally pay full tuition. • Cost-disadvantage of American higher education in its cross-national comparisons with major OECD counterparts. • Decreased college affordability for domestic and international students due to skyrocketing tuition and student loan debt nationwide. • Disruption of the legacy education industry by fast-emerging disruptive innovations in AI and IT and by alternative forms of education within and outside academia (e.g. certificate programs, corporate universities, Coursera). • Increased demand for skill development as opposed to rote learning knowledge grounded in memorization and other habitual mechanical practices currently employed. Certainly, the 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. are facing the above trends and developmental opportunities. Nevertheless, Jesuit education has a unique and distinct philosophy, shaped by the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. We discuss in this study how this uniqueness represents a sustainable competitive advantage. For instance, the Jesuit principles emphasize the importance of the whole person, and the integration of faith, learning, and action. These values have influenced Jesuit business education and set it apart from secular business education. For this reason, we trace in this study the origins and life of Ignatius of Loyola and examine the roots, principles, and values of Jesuit education in this retrospective context. Furthermore, we highlight that Jesuit business education emphasizes the development of ethical leadership and the integration of business knowledge with a commitment to social justice. This fact also leads Jesuit business programs to incorporate courses on business ethics, social responsibility, and sustainability, as well as service-learning projects and internships that address social issues. Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. share a commitment to providing a high-quality education that prepares students for leadership and service in their communities. Although they share a common philosophy and approach to education, each college and university is unique in varying in size, location, academic programs, culture, teaching practices, and traditions. Further, our study compares and contrast values and principles of Jesuit business education with those of secular institutions. In our analysis, we identify emerging strategic responses by leaders at higher education institutions across the U.S. as well as the institutional pressures they confront and the strategies they have adopted. Leaders of Jesuit colleges and universities are experiencing change not only externally but also internally regarding tenure, academic freedom, and shared governance. We talk about how senior leaders are looking for new revenue streams, new programs that could generate high student demand, and new student retention strategies. We explain how this mission will lead them to adopt new business models at their institutions.