Cyberspace and Business Schools

Professor John M. McCann
Fuqua School of Business
Duke University

July 1993
(Revised May 1995)

This is a revised version of a memorandum I wrote to the Deans of the Fuqua School of Business (FSB) in July 1993. Although this memo, and the documents referenced in it, were written for use by the faculty and Deans at Duke, I have decided to "publish" this material on the Web because I believe the issues and concepts I explored in my work should be of interest to adminstrators and faculty in all business schools.

I have been studying the Information Revolution with the goal of understanding its impact on the field of marketing. During the 1980s, I explored the impacts of personal computers and related technologies. While on sabbatical leave in 1991-92, I extended my studies into communications technologies and spent time trying to figure out how they might impact marketing

I was in the midst of this study when I returned from sabbatical and attended a faculty meeting in which Tom Keller, the Dean of the Fuqua School of Business (FSB), said that because business schools are so expensive and sometimes irrelevant, we must find a new model for business education, one that recognizes and takes advantage of the changing nature of the business environment. This statement rang true to me, perhaps because I had just spent a year in a university (University of Oregon) that was going through wrenching changes because it no longer had the state funds to do all the things it had been doing.

I saw that FSB was in the midst of a Continuous Improvement program that would make us more efficient. But I did not think that this effort would lead to new models for business education; the phrases "continuous improvement" and "new model" do not seem to belong in the same sentence. I was sufficiently motivated by Tom's assessment that I started examining how new emerging technologies might provide business schools with new models.

I kept studying and reading about related topics, and began to compose documents that explored other models. My approach was to try to understand what was happening with new technologies and then predict how they would impact our business school environment and business. I set a deadline of July 26, 1993, for this work because that was the start of my vacation.. That day arrived and I stopped. Even though I was not finished with my explorations, I had to stop. The result was the first four documents list below.

Circulation of these papers within the Fuqua School of Business led the Deans to establish a committee (Information Technology/Distance Learning Committee) to review the work and to make recommendations about a plan of action for the School. The initial work of this committee, which I chaired, is included in this series of papers in the form of the committee's recommendation to construct a Computer Mediated Learning Environment (CMLE).

After the CMLE was operational, John Gallagher and I taught a course that was originally titled "Marketing in a Globally Internetworked World" but the need for parsimony led to a shorter title: "Marketing and the Internet."

It is your turn to consider this topic, if you so choose, and I have provided links to the papers and to the new course:

If you read these documents, you will find that I am very enthusiastic about the opportunities that technology is giving us, and that I believe business schools must recognize these opportunities or they will become problems, ones that will increase in importance and magnitude throughout the rest of the 20th century.