By Jerry Useem
If any institution is equipped to handle questions of strategy, it is Harvard Business School, whose professors have coined so much of the strategic lexicon used in classrooms and boardrooms that it’s hard to discuss the topic without recourse to their concepts: Competitive advantage. Disruptive innovation. The value chain.
But when its dean, Nitin Nohria, faced the school’s biggest strategic decision since 1924 — the year it planned its campus and adopted the case-study method as its pedagogical cornerstone — he ran into an issue. Those professors, and those concepts, disagreed.
The question: Should Harvard Business School enter the business of online education, and, if so, how?
Universities across the country are wrestling with the same question — call it the educator’s quandary — of whether to plunge into the rapidly growing realm of online teaching, at the risk of devaluing the on-campus education for which students pay tens of thousands of dollars, or to stand pat at the risk of being left behind…….