Niche Business School Programs
| Peter Klein |
I’m surprised that the niche strategy isn’t used more in academia. Most economics departments at research universities strive to be the “MIT of [fill-in-the-blank].” Business schools tend to value the same set of academic journals, teach from the same set of cases, and hire faculty from the same set of top schools. Not only is this strategy unlikely to work for the typical mid-tier university, it has the undesirable social consequence of creating a bland conformism in which every department in Field X looks pretty much like every other department in Field X. The virtues of experimentation and learning are lost. Herd behavior is the order of the day.
Business Week recently ran an interesting piece about several undergraduate business programs that are trying the niche strategy. The University of Louisville runs a successful equine management program. Belmont University in Nashville offers a specialized music business degree. The University of Houston trains students for the energy industry. And Florida State University has a Professional Golf Management program.
What are your experiences with niche programs, where the niche is defined by applied focus (as in the above examples), by research method or approach, by a particular theoretical focus, or otherwise?