Convergence and divergence dynamics in British and French business schools: How will the pressure for accreditation influence these dynamics?

Lisa C Thomas, Jon Billsberry, Veronique Ambrosini, Harry Barton

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38 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on convergence and divergence dynamics among leading British and French business schools and explores how the pressure for accreditation influences these dynamics. We illustrate that despite historical differences in approaches to management education in Britain and France, these approaches have converged partly based on the influence of the American model of management education but more recently through the pursuit of accreditation, in particular from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the European Quality Improvement Standard. We explore these dynamics through the application of the resource-based view of the firm and institutional theory and suggest that, whilst achieving accreditation is a necessary precursor for international competition, it is no longer a form of competitive advantage. The pursuit of accreditation has fostered a form of competitive mimicry reducing national distinctiveness. The resource-based view of the firm suggests that the top schools need a more heterogeneous approach that is not easily replicable if they are to outperform the competitors. Consequently, the convergence of management education in Britain and France will become a new impetus for divergence. We assert that future growth and competitive advantage might be better achieved through the reassertion of national, regional and local cultural characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305 - 319
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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