Thursday, 16 December 2010

Communication compulsory in only 50% of NZ undergraduate Business degrees when employers want skilled communicators

Research by Sandra Barnett & Susan O'Rourke, published in the December 2010 issue of the Communication Journal of New Zealand, shows that although employers want graduates skilled in communication, business communication is compulsory in only 50% of Business degrees from major NZ tertiary education institutions. On top of that, it's very difficult for employers to gauge what graduates may have gained from any communication courses that they did complete.

In contrast to USA & Europe, New Zealand undergraduate business education grew largely out of the accountancy field. As a result most Bachelors of Commerce have not included business communication. It has long been included in the NZ Diploma of Business but focused on skills seen as appropriate to the relatively narrow requirements of the accounting profession rather than to business in the wider sense.

With recent writers in the business management field calling for a transformation in management and organisational communication (see Stephen Denning, The death & reinvention of management. Nov 2010) it seems clear that a transformation in communication education is overdue.

Further indication of the importance of sophisticated communication skill is in the December 2010 McKinsey Quarterly.  In “The rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday” McKinsey report research showing that firms are experiencing measurable benefits in increased speed of access to knowledge, effectiveness of marketing, reduced communication costs and increased customer satisfaction.

I issued a challenge to communication educators at the December 2010 annual conference of the New Zealand Communication Association, to transform the way they organise and do communication education. Actually I challenge them to transform the way that business education generally is organised and done. Read my challenge here: Wanted: communication educators for management revolution.


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