Executive development programs have entered a period of rapid transformation, driven on one side by the proliferation of a new technological, cultural, and economic landscape commonly referred to as "digital disruption" and on the other by a widening gap between the skills that participants and their organizations demand and those provided by their executive programs. We document a growing awareness of a mismatch between executive development offerings and the skill sets executive need in a VUCA, Web 2.5-enabled economy and show that a trio of forces of digital disruption—specifically disintermediation, disaggregation, and decoupling—together open up the executive education industry to a radical restructuration.
Executive development programs have entered a period of disruption catalyzed by the digitalization of content, connectivity, and communication and driven by renewed demand for high-level executive and managerial skills. Unlike other segments of higher education, the executive education market is heavily subsidized by the organizations employing the executives that participate in them. To understand the ongoing transformation of the industry, we mine a large database of transcripts of interviews with participants in executive development programs at HBS—and executives in their sponsoring organizations—to map out the (multidimensional) objective functions of executive participants and their organizations, and show how the trio of disruptive forces (disintermediation, disaggregation, and decoupling) that have figured prominently in other industries disrupted by digitalization (media, travel, publishing) are likely to reshape the structure of demand for executive development.
Even as the demand for managerial skills continues to grow, executive education worldwide has entered a period of disruption caused by the digitalization of content, connectivity, and communication. The current offerings of many executive education program-providers fall short of creating new skills in executives and developing fresh capabilities for organizations. Following a study of all the programs offered by the business schools, consultancies, corporate universities, and online education providers, we analyze the advantages, and the constraints, of the existing programs. We map the vehicles they use for skill development—such as case discussions, lectures, simulations, coaching sessions, live projects, –and so on—in terms of their potential to develop executives for the future. We then examine the impact of the forces of digital disruption—the disaggregation and disintermediation of activity chains, and the decoupling of the sources of value in education programs—on the future of executive education.
Executive education worldwide has entered a period of disruption catalyzed by the digitalization of content, connectivity, and communication—while the demand for managerial skills is growing. The forces of disintermediation, disaggregation, and decoupling are creating an unprecedented increase in the nature and number of education options available to companies seeking to increase their skill and capability bases. We introduce a compass that will help CEOs and CLOs navigate the emerging landscape of executive education and a guide for designers of executive programs faced with a new industry dynamic and technology curves that open up numerous design and redesign options.
We examine the future of executive education on a technological and cultural landscape that is imminent but different from the one to which we are accustomed. We show how the contextualization, socialization, and personalization of learning—avowed but distal goals of current executive education programs—are made real by the integration of a suite of currently available technologies and ways of using them that bring learners together in dense and intimate learning networks (socialization), powered by semantic and social search technologies that adapt content to individual learners' styles and preferences (personalization) and can be deployed in the setting of the learners' own organizations (contextualization)—all of which serve to optimize 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.