当今商界,企业高管的决策离不开信息技术。难 怪多数美国商学院院长认为,对未来高管来说, 了解IT如何影响商业与社会至关重要。

When the dotcom bubble burst in 2000 it was not just budding entrepreneurs and investors who had their fingers burnt. Business school professors who had pinned their hopes on teaching e- commerce and information technology courses also felt the pain. These days, though, it would seem that IT is increasingly creeping back on to the agenda in US business schools.

当2000年互联网泡沫破灭之时,不仅初露头角 的创业者和投资者烧伤了手指,就连一心期望 教授电子商务与信息技术课程的商学院教授也 感到痛苦。但如今,信息技术知识似乎逐渐重 返美国商学院的课程。

A recent survey by two professors at the Stern School of Business at New York University revealed that 43 out of 45 US business school deans interviewed believed that it was critical for executives of the future to have a clear understanding of how IT affected business and society.

纽约大学斯特恩商学 院(Stern School of Business at New York University)两位教授最近的一次调查表明, 在受访的45位美国商学院院长中,有43人认为 对未来的高管人员而言,清晰了解信息技术如 何影响商业与社会至关重要。

Nearly half the deans interviewed believed IT was central to accelerating globalisation and was a significant contributor to wealth creation, according to Vasant Dhar, professor of information systems, and Arun Sundararajan, assistant professor, the authors of the report.

该报告作者,信息系统教授瓦桑特•达 尔(Vasant Dhar)和助理教授阿伦•孙达 拉贾(Arun Sundararajan)表示,近一半的受 访院长认为,信息技术对加速全球化进程有决 定作用,也是创造财富的重要因素。

Some 27 per cent of those questioned believed that investment in IT was critical to the success of organisations and that successful managers needed to be able to make those decisions, while more than one-quarter also believed that being a successful executive depended on the creative use of electronic data.

约27%的受访者认为,投资信 息技术对组织的成功至关重要,成功的经理人 需要具备做出投资决定的能力,同样有逾四分 之一的受访者认为,要想成为一名成功的高管 人员,取决于对电子数据的创造性应用。

Part of the reason for conducting the research was that a growing number of executives were concerned about the lack of IT knowledge among business school graduates, says Prof Dhar.

“There was an increasing sense of discomfort that executives were not trained to make IT decisions . . .  We wondered whether business schools were looking forward enough, or whether they were looking in the rear-view mirror.

达尔教授表示,之所 以进行该研究,部分是因为越来越多的高管人 员担心商学院毕业生的IT知识匮乏。

The report shows that business schools are aware of the issues. Moreover, Haim Mendelson, professor of electronic business and commerce at the graduate school of business at Stanford University, believes that the past few years have seen a real change in the way IT is taught at business schools.

“高管人员没受过制定IT决策 的训练,人们对此的不安日益强烈……我们想 知道商学院是否具有足够的前瞻眼光、或者它 们是否在从后视镜中看问题。”

“In the past there had been a lot of emphasis on IT as a separate functional area,” he says. But that is now changing.

该报告显示,商学院 意识到了这些问题。此外,斯坦福大学 (Stanford University)商学院电子商务教授 海姆•门德尔松(Haim Mendelson)认 为,过去几年里商学院教授信息技术的方式发 生了真正改变。

He compares IT teaching with the teaching of finance in business schools, which can be broken down into two broad categories: financial markets and corporate finance. Financial markets are an essential part of the curriculum for those entering that line of business, while corporate finance is central to nearly all of the jobs MBAs will hold in the future.

他表示:“从 前,信息技术往往被强调为一门独立的功能学 科。”但情况正在改变。

Prof Mendelson argues that, until recently, only general management schools such as Harvard Business School and Stanford have taught IT as a subject that is integral to every MBA student’s course, rather than as a programme for those destined to become chief information officers.

他比 较了商学院的信息技术教学和金融教学,金融 教学可被归入两种广义范畴:金融市场和公司 金融。金融市场是从业者入门课程的关键部 分,而公司金融对MBA学员未来从事的几乎所 有工作都很重要。

“Our philosophy [at Stanford] concentrates on what is important for general managers. We have developed IT content for them.”

门德尔松教 授称,直到不久以前,只有哈佛商学院 (Harvard Business School)和斯坦福这类综 合管理类院校,才将信息技术作为每位MBA学 员必修课程的一门科目,而非针对那些立志成 为首席信息官的学员开设的课程。

Over the past three years, many schools have adopted the Harvard and Stanford approach, he says.

“我们的观点(在斯坦福) 是,主要看对普通经理人来说什么内容重要。 我们为他们发展了IT内容。”

Some professors, however, believe that IT not only needs to be an integral part of the MBA curriculum but should be taught as a separate subject as well.

他表示,近三年来,许多商学院都采用了哈佛 和斯坦福的方法。

“It has to be infused into subjects [such as marketing and supply-chain management] because these subjects don’t exist without IT these days,” says Theodoros Evgeniou, assistant professor of technology management and decision sciences at Insead in Fontainebleau, near Paris.

然而,一些 教授认为,IT不仅要成为MBA课程中应有的一 部分,同时也应该作为独立学科进行教学。

“But my own bias is that unless there is a separate forum that focuses on technology issues, we won’t give enough attention to technology. And I believe that is dangerous.”

欧洲工商管理学院(Insead)科 技管理和决策科学助理教授塞奥佐罗斯 •叶夫根尼欧(Theodoros Evgeniou)表 示:“IT必须渗透到各个学科里(诸如营销和 供应链管理等),因为没有IT,这些学科现在 就不会存在。”欧洲工商管理学院位于枫丹白 露,在巴黎附近。

Prof Evgeniou gives the example of how e-mail has changed the way people live. “Technology is not just an enabler: it changes lives. We can’t send leaders out there without understanding the impacts of technology that are not obvious.”

“不过,以 我个人的观点来看,如果不能单独开辟一个专 门讨论科技问题的论坛,我们对科技的关注就 不够。我认为这很危险。”

The next question being explored by the NYU professors is whether there can be a standard IT curriculum that all schools can adopt.

叶 夫根尼欧教授以电子邮件如何改变了人们的生 活方式为例。“科技不仅能提供方法,它还能 改变生活。我们培养的领导者,必须理解科技 带来的那些不很明显的影响。”

Prof Mendelson is sceptical. With most subjects – finance, for example – both the content and the context of the teaching are relatively stable over several years, he says. With IT, the management issues – the content – do not change dramatically but the technology itself and the business applications – the context – does. Case studies need to be relevant to contemporary technology, he argues, so have to be constantly revised or replaced.

这两位纽约大学教授提出的下 一个问题是,是否存在一套所有商学院都能采 用的标准IT课程?

The two NYU professors, who presented the findings of their survey to a group of 20 participating schools at a meeting at Harvard Business School in May, believe their job is now to raise awareness of the issues. By the time the top schools meet again, IT’s relationship with business and society may have changed dramatically once again.

门 德尔松教授对此表示怀疑。他指出,大多数学 科——例如金融——教学的“内容”和“背 景”几十年来相对稳定。而对于IT而言,管理 课题(内容)不会发生大的变化,但科技本身 和商业应用(背景)的变化却很大。他认为, 案例研究要切合当代科技,就必须不停修改或 替换。

这两位纽约大 学教授今年5月在哈佛商学院开会时向20家参 与调查的商学院公布了他们的调查结果,他们 相信,他们现在的任务,是提高对这些问题的 认识。等到这些顶级商学院再开会的时候,IT 与商业和社会的关系,也许已再次发生巨变。

译者/牛薇 徐柳