sealPurdue News

October 1998

Executives from around the world head back to class

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The first new twist in MBA programs was special arrangements for busy executives. Now the programs have gone international.

The executive MBA programs did away with the tradition of attending class full-time. Rather, an executive in such a program typically spent evenings or weekends working on courses for the MBA and then met for intensive sessions a few times a year on campus.

Now, with the international component, those intensive sessions are held in a variety of locations worldwide. For example, an executive might work in Chicago, take classes via the Internet at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and spend two weeks at Purdue, two weeks in Hungary and another two weeks in the Netherlands.

More than 100 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada are now offering executive MBAs with an international component.

"What you learned as an undergraduate 20 years ago isn't enough to lead or to compete in today's global workplace," says Martin Rapisarda, director of the executive master's programs at Purdue's Krannert Graduate School of Management. "As companies expand into new markets and cultures, the management of an organization must be ready and able to effectively lead in a new, and often very different, environment. That's just one of the issues addressed in an international master's of business administration degree program."

Rapisarda says such programs also cover strategies for global competition, management of technological change, and international economics.

A key component of the executive MBA program, Rapisarda says, is that each student brings his or her "real world," and often international, experience to share with classmates.

"And that's essential, because most of our students are executives who either hold or soon will hold leadership positions in their companies," he says. Rapisarda says participants in most executive master's programs share the following characteristics:

  • Average 35 years old, typically in the range from 30 to 40.
  • Average 12 years of experience with their organization.
  • Received promotions and transfers since the beginning of the program.
  • Are culturally diverse: 4O percent come from America, 40 percent from Europe and 20 percent from elsewhere in the world.
  • Are employed by such companies as AT&T, Eli Lilly, General Electric, General Motors, Motorola, Ingersoll-Rand, Kodak, Navistar, Oracle, Ford Motor Co., Exxon, United Technologies and Sun Microsystems.

One of the newest Purdue programs for executives, set to begin in January, is the international master's in management degree, a collaboration between the Krannert Graduate School of Management; Tias, the business school of Tilburg University in the Netherlands; and the Management Development Centre at the Budapest University of Economic Sciences in Hungary.

"The IMM is truly an international experience because of the distinctive two-week residencies in each partner location throughout the two-year program," Rapisarda says. "And the schedule makes it possible for participants and instructors to be drawn from around the world, which makes for a diverse class composition."

Rapisarda says another plus about the schedule is that, because the coursework between residencies is delivered via the Internet, students aren't tied to one area geographically. "This way the student can continue his or her education even if they experience a job transfer or change during program," he says.

The IMM also leads to two master's degrees: a master's of science in management from Purdue and an executive master's of business administration degree from either Tilburg or Budapest universities.

The number of domestic and international executive MBA programs has burgeoned since the concept began at the University of Chicago in 1943. Maury Kalnitz, director of the executive MBA program at Georgia State University and chairman of the board of trustees for the Executive MBA Council, says that in Atlanta alone seven schools offer 11 different programs; only two schools offered an executive master's program in 1987.

"The number of schools represented on the EMBA council reflects the popularity of this type of education," Kalnitz says. "With about 130 universities and colleges offering an executive degree, the demand for such programs is as strong as ever. Executive programs really took off in the early 1980s, and now new technology and distance education is driving another boom."

Rapisarda agrees. He says a key selling point for the new IMM and other executive degrees is the creative use of electronic mail, computer conferencing and electronic document exchange.

Information about the program is, appropriately, available on the Internet.

Sources: Martin Rapisarda (765) 494-7700; e-mail,

Maury Kalnitz (404) 651-3764; e-mail,

Writer: Kate Walker (765) 494-2073; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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