David Thomas, Dean of McDonough School at Georgetown University.
© FT

It was at least 20 years ago that the top US business schools set out on a path to become global players, but two decades later it often seems that very little has been achieved.

David Thomas, dean of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington DC, discusses his view with FT Business Education Editor Della Bradshaw.

Why have US business schools found the transition so difficult?
I think what happened is that what globalisation meant to us 20 years ago has changed. Twenty years ago, globalisation meant preparing a curriculum that [taught] our students how to work in multinational corporations and we didn’t see a world where major competitors for US companies would come from places like China, India and Brazil. We didn’t see the way that entrepreneurship in all parts of the world would be fuelling economies and that’s what we are now trying to align with.

Why are there still so few international students in the US?
There has to be intentionality. In the past four years we have increased our international student population by more than 10 per cent and that is because we decided to be very intentional about that. We do much more [targeted] recruiting. American business schools have to understand that today competition is stiff from schools outside the US.

Is it necessary to be global?
I think you can differentiate yourself. [Our aim] is not simply to have global content but to provide opportunities for exposure to leaders, see business in action and develop deep relationships.

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