Cambodian Educators Team With WDI to Build a Stronger B-School

Friday, October 27, 2017

Administrators from the ACLEDA Institute of Business listen to U-M Business Professor Wally Hopp during a discussion at the Ross School of Business.

Administrators from the ACLEDA Institute of Business listen to U-M Business Professor Wally Hopp during a discussion at the Ross School of Business.


WDI’s Education Initiative recently hosted four administrators from the ACLEDA Institute of Business (AIB) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as part of its consulting work with the school to increase their capacity as a premier business school.

The delegation visited WDI and the Ross School of Business for three days Oct. 23-25 to meet with faculty and learn how a world-class business school approaches some of the strategic growth areas outlined for AIB in an earlier WDI report. They also discussed best practices in management education.

At Ross, the visitors met with: Wally Hopp, the C.K. Prahalad Distinguished University Professor of Business and Engineering and former Associate Dean of Faculty; Norm Bishara, associate dean for Undergraduate and Early Career Programs; and, Liz Muller, managing director of Global Initiatives, among others.


In addition to their meetings across units at Ross, the delegation toured the University of Michigan campus, visited U-M’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, and attended a keynote lecture by Dr. Martin Seligman, popularly known as the “father of positive psychology.”

WDI’s engagement with AIB began in August when Ross Professor and WDI Faculty Affiliate John Branch visited Cambodia to conduct a needs assessment. Through this partnership, WDI is assisting AIB as it builds degree programs in banking, accounting, and finance with both hard and soft skills.

Branch said because AIB is a relatively new university, it has a tremendous opportunity to leapfrog other existing institutions by adapting the latest technologies and best practices in higher education.

“AIB is starting with a blank slate, with no institutional inertia preventing it from implementing state of the art thinking and technology,” he said.

But Branch cautioned against simply taking the American business school model and implanting it in Cambodia.

“Cambodia’s cultural context must be considered,” he said. “Indeed, its rich cultural traditions, its economic situation, its political intrigues all must be accounted for in the design of a business school.”

WDI’s Education Initiative has assisted several business schools in low- and middle-income countries over the past 20 years  by using this capacity-building and study tour model, and is looking to do more of these engagements in the future.

“Our approach has been to show our clients what has worked at successful global business schools while at the same time taking them through exercises to determine the role they want to fill in their local market,” said Amy Gillett, vice president of WDI’s Education Initiative. “Ultimately, we help them come up with a successful strategy to find their unique role in the market. Such differentiation is critical to their long-term success in an increasingly crowded educational market.”

Administrators from the ACLEDA Institute of Business with members of the WDI Education and Grants Management team.



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