The missing subject in Malaysian business schools

We have to continuously upgrade our business school curricula to ensure our education system in Muslim countries is not only world-class, but relevant for businesses in Muslim markets. - NSTP file pic, for illustration purposes onlyWe have to continuously upgrade our business school curricula to ensure our education system in Muslim countries is not only world-class, but relevant for businesses in Muslim markets. – NSTP file pic, for illustration purposes only

BUSINESS schools are a critical building block of our education system in offering business management and administration courses, and executive education while crafting new entrepreneurs and future business elites.

Business leaders commercialise innovation, produce products and services that are needed, create jobs and export products and services to the world.

Hence, such schools should be teaching subjects that matter in business. I hope most of you will agree with me until here.

With close to 20 years of experience in the halal industry in Asia and the Middle East, I discovered a new business world with written and unwritten rules, and business dynamics that are critical to understand to be successful in Muslim markets.

I spent a lot of time since 2006 researching the industry not only to understand, but also create new theories, concepts and tools, in particular, the field of halal purchasing, halal supply chain management, halal clusters and halal reputation management.

To be successful in Muslim markets, it is important to master halal business skills to build strong halal brands and protect your licence to operate. As halal is part of Islam, certain mistakes in operations or communication can be highly sensitive, which can have far-reaching corporate reputation and financial consequences for businesses.

Today, the halal industry is dominated by producers and brands from non-Muslim countries. This is not only true for consumer products, food-cosmetics pharmaceuticals, but also for raw materials and ingredients. So, why is the Muslim world lagging behind even in the halal industry?

As Islamic banks and windows are so successful, is this money used to invest in creating the next halal food multinational in the Muslim world? What is the role of the Muslim world in the halal value chain? Many more questions crossed my mind over the years.

Then, I finally looked in the mirror. Maybe it is the education system in Muslim countries. What are we teaching our students and industry professionals that are coming to business schools?

Then, I studied the programmes and modules offered at our business schools. The programmes offered in Muslim countries in Southeast Asia and the Middle East are identical to the ones offered in the West.

Namely, we are offering finance, leadership, strategy, marketing, organisational behaviour, technology and entrepreneurship. Why are we not teaching important theories and skills needed in the halal industry? Why are we not teaching “halal business management” at our business schools?

For more than 10 years, I have been teaching the subject “purchasing and supply chain management” for MSc, MBA and DBA programmes in Malaysia. I taught my students one lecture each on halal purchasing and halal supply chain management, respectively, which always came back during the exam.

I always received good response on these two lectures from my students from both Muslim and non-Muslim countries, Muslims and non-Muslims. But I felt that the subject of halal business management deserved more attention at the business school, at least a full module for students at business schools in Muslim (majority) countries.

Education programmes in business schools seem to be cast in stone and there is often little change, flexibility or maybe interest to relook the business education curricula.

Given the coronavirus crisis that is also shaking up the education system here and many other countries, maybe it is the right time to rethink what we should teach the new generation of business elites at our business schools in Muslim countries.

“What are important skills to learn in halal business management?” you would probably like to know. I would propose the following topics to be covered in a “halal business management” module, namely: halal industry dynamics, halal assurance system and halal certification, halal purchasing, halal supply chain management, halal logistics and retail, halal clusters, halal branding and marketing, and halal risk and reputation management.

To conclude, I recommend business schools create a new module called “Halal Business Management”. If not part of the core curriculum, at least an elective.

We have to continuously upgrade our business school curricula to ensure our education system in Muslim countries is not only world-class, but relevant for businesses in Muslim markets. In my opinion, excellence in business management in Muslim markets and domination in the halal industry can only be achieved by educating the new generation of business elites on the subject of halal business management.

By Dr Marco Tieman.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/leaders/2020/09/625387/missing-subject-malaysian-business-schools

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