Higher Learning

Global Vision

Wharton is second only to Harvard in terms of the number of executive education programs offered. Alison Peirce, director of executive programs at Wharton, says the school's executive education program earned $25 million last year.

Getting entrepreneurs to think globally is a primary objective of Wharton's executive education courses. With 50 percent to 70 percent of the school's two-to-five-week executive education classes comprised of participants from outside the United States, the learning potential for U.S. entrepreneurs increases exponentially. "We deliberately designed it that way because we think it's important for [executives] to be aware of competitive, cultural and social issues outside the United States," Peirce says. "[At Wharton,] we want to have an international learning community. If [entrepreneurs] only hear examples from their own industries and geographies, they'll think that's the world." Whether or not they ever intend to export their products or services, Peirce believes entrepreneurs need to have a broad sense of what's going on in business worldwide.

Wharton's executive education programs are broken down into three main categories: functional and strategic, leadership and general management, and senior management. The programs range in length from one to 12 weeks and cover subjects ranging from finance, accounting and negotiating to the special concerns of running a family business.

Most of those who teach the executive education courses at Wharton are full-time faculty members. According to Peirce, they must possess not only a combination of strong teaching skills but considerable insights into real-world applications as well.

At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, one of the executive education program's strengths is that the faculty is an optimal mix of academics and practitioners, says Management Institute chair Chuck Krueger. "Our programs are a mix of professors, consultants and businesspeople," he says. "I can teach the theory of internal auditing, for example, but for [teaching] current auditing techniques, we need [faculty] with fresh scar tissue."

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This article was originally published in the August 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Higher Learning.

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