Prof. Catherine Duggan, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School visited Lagos Business School today to engage its faculty on the need to teach students how to think rather than how to apply models.
Prof. Duggan shared her perspective on how the conventional ways of teaching business management should be challenged as different markets require different approaches. She believes the answers will come from the developing world, as most Western institutions have not proven themselves to be thought leaders in doing business in Africa.
The interaction led to various discussions highlighting businesses on the continent that have succeeded in the midst of daunting challenges – no data, uncertainty, political risk, limited access to capital, poor infrastructure and more. These success stories reveal that there are non-western models, not taught in classrooms, which work.
There’s a set theory on how to do business taught in most business schools, however, what needs to be emphasised more is the need to adapt these theories for various markets. The dean of Lagos Business School, Dr Enase Okonedo, noted that though it might be flawed to generalise that these tested non-conventional structures will always work, there is an underlying thread that unites all the stories of successful businesses in developing countries – creativity and adaptability. The use of proxies, in the absence of reliable data, to determine actual business potential is an example of applying these skills.
Prof. Duggan tasked LBS faculty to find ways of making such insightful information public – showing Nigeria’s potential in order to birth its long awaited boom. She expressed, with enthusiasm, her anticipation to collaborate further in harnessing and disseminating such information. Further discussions revealed the need to awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship in students as there’s a whole world filled with opportunities.
She teaches the Business, Government, and the International Economy (BGIE) course in the required curriculum. Her research examines institutional development, financial-sector regulation, and economic growth in emerging markets, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.
Pof. Duggan is committed to Africa and has authored several Harvard Business School cases, including: Nigeria – Opportunity in Crisis?, Uganda: The Constitution of Development, and Negotiating Trust: Borrowers, Lenders, and the Politics of Household Debt. Her current book project, The Institutional Foundations of Lending: Indirect Regulation and State-Building (forthcoming from Cambridge University Press) examines the evolution of credit markets, contract enforcement, and financial regulation from the middle ages into modern developing countries.