/ 30 May 2024

A new era of learning 


AI integration disrupts business … and business education 

The landscape of business education is undergoing a revolutionary shift due to the advent of AI. This robust thrust into the future of how business leaders acquire knowledge and finesse their craft arrived in November 2022 with the launch of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) powered language model by the American research organisation OpenAI. By January 2023, ChatGPT had become the then-fastest growing consumer software application in history, gaining over 100 million users.

Around this time, two months after its iconic launch, Mack Institute Co-Director Christian Terwiesch caught the attention of tertiary education institutions and business schools with a white paper titled “Would ChatGPT Get a Wharton MBA?” The answer? A resounding yes! 

Despite being an early iteration — ChatGPT3 — with capabilities more limited than those it boasts today, the software already showed promise in automating tasks typically performed by highly compensated knowledge workers, including analysts, managers and consultants. It could handle professional tasks such as writing software code and preparing legal documents. 

Terwiesch evaluated ChatGPT’s performance on an MBA operations management final exam. He found that while ChatGPT excelled at basic operations, concepts and case study explanations, it sometimes made surprising mistakes in simple calculations. It struggled with advanced multi-product process analysis questions involving stochastic effects like demand variability. However, he found that ChatGPT could correct itself effectively after receiving hints from human experts. 

Overall, he assessed that ChatGPT’s exam performance merited a B to B- grade, and he wrote: “This has important implications for business school education, including the need for exam policies, curriculum design focusing on collaboration between human and AI, opportunities to simulate real-world decision-making processes, the need to teach creative problem solving, improved teaching productivity, and more.”

The future is here

According to investment bank Goldman Sachs, AI systems like ChatGPT could lead to the automation of up to 300 million jobs worldwide: “The impact of AI on the labour market is likely to be significant, but most jobs and industries are only partially exposed to automation and are thus more likely to be complemented rather than substituted by AI.”

It is in this complementary nature that the true value of AI lies. While AI should not be taking student exams or writing their assignments, ChatGPT suggests that MBA students can use AI tools for data analysis, research, immersive simulations and to improve soft skills. 

Antromorphic’s Claude.ai said it could act as a virtual tutor or high-level brainstorming partner for MBA students, adding that: “By embracing AI-powered platforms, students can gain a competitive edge, develop essential analytical and decision-making skills, and better prepare for the AI-driven business world of tomorrow.” 

Business schools react 

A 2023 report from the Graduate Business Curriculum (GBC) Roundtable found that most business school faculties and professionals realise the importance of integrating generative AI into the business school curriculum, despite some concerns and challenges. It found that 74% of business schools were teaching generative AI as a subject matter in the curriculum, though only 15% said it was significantly or fully taught. 

One in five business schools offered dedicated courses on generative AI, with common topics including intro to AI, ethics/legal implications, and industry innovation. Despite this, only 30% reported having a university or faculty policy on generative AI usage, while just 20% had a formal group working on such a policy.

The report forecasts a steady and cautious integration of generative AI within business school curricula as institutions of higher learning recognise its importance — despite challenges around integrity, misinformation and training needs.