MBA Program in International Business, Grasuate School of Business Sciences, University of Tsukuba

I. The ABEST21 Comprehensive Review

1. ABEST21 Accreditation Result

“ABEST21 (THE ALLIANCE ON BUSINESS EDUCATION AND SCHOLARSHIP FOR TOMORROW, a 21st century organization) hereby certifies that MBA PROGRAM IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS of the GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF TSUKUBA, JAPAN has generally met ABEST21 Management Accreditation Standards and the quality maintenance and improvement of education and research in the aforementioned program are promising and good. Accreditation commences April 1, 2019 for a five-year period.”

2. The Peer Review Team
Leader Prof. Dr. Utomo Sarjono Putro
School of Business and Management, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia
Member Prof. Takao Shigeta
Department of Business Administration, SBI Graduate School, Japan
Member Dean Dr. Siriwut Buranapin
Faculty of Business Administration, Chiang Mai University, Thailand
3. The Peer Review Schedule
Process Committee Date
Ratification of the ABEST21 Accreditation Board of Trustees Mar. 7, 2019
Recommendation of the ABEST21 Accreditation Accreditation Committee Mar. 7, 2019
Ratification of the PRT Review Report Peer Review Committee Mar. 6, 2019
Ratification of the Self-Evaluation Report Peer Review Committee Nov. 1, 2018
Implementation of the Peer Review Visit Peer Review Team Oct. 5-6, 2018
Submission of the Self-Evaluation Report Jun. 30, 2018
Ratification of the Quality Improvement Plan Peer Review Committee Nov. 25, 2017
Submission of the Quality Improvement Plan Jun. 30, 2017
4. Comprehensive Review

1) The overall concern found in the report is that the School does not sufficiently apply Kaizen approach. The goals of many standards were missing, which results in unclear strategy of improvement. The operations to achieve mission in many standards are not systematic and there is a lack of clear KPIs that would drive performance.

  • There is no explicit PDCA system in MBA-IB. It should show the PDCA systematic process in flowchart.
  • There is no clear Assurance of Learning (AOL) system in place in the MBA-IB. There is no description of how the mission is translated into LG/LO, how the courses are mapped across LG/LO, how the courses are contributing to achieving relevant LG/LO, and how the results of evaluation AOL are used to improve learning process in MBA-IB.
  • Diversity of foreign students in term of regions needs to be improved, especially students coming from USA and Western Europe.
  • Student career development needs to be enhanced.
  • Dialogue between administrative staff and faculty needs to be promoted to enable common understanding in operating PDCA cycle.
  • Administrative staff needs to improve their English and cross-cultural experience, but staff members have no time to do that.
  • MBA-IB is moving from teaching to industry engagements, therefore faculty needs to improve their competence in mentorship, counselling, and internship in industries.
  • MBA-IB needs to explore more action plans in SCR, and the action plans should be more concrete.
  • Students request that the professors who have good performance should be able to extent their contract after the end of the previous contract.
5. Good Practice in Management Education

1) Title of Good Practice in Management Education

Interactive Lectures by leading academics and practitioners

2) Reason for selecting the title stated above

  • Cross-registration gives the students more alternatives to plan their study, and improves cross-sectoral interactions among departments in Tsukuba University.
  • Foreign faculty members constitute a half of all faculty in MBA-IB. It improves faculty diversity.
  • Foreign students constitute around 25% of the total students. It increases students’ diversity, and provides them with cross-cultural experiences.
  • The presentation of impact after graduation in MBA-IB brochure clearly describes the impact in salary increase, and how the graduates work around the world.
  • The ratio between faculty and students is low 1:5, therefore the students have more chances to interact with the faculty.
  • Tsukuba Short term Study Program in collaboration with foreign universities gives students an opportunity to have global experiences.
6. Matter to be noted
  • There is no explicit explanation in SCR on whether the School has a proper system for Quality Improvement. To illustrate, the School may adopt the PDCA Cycle Model in developing the quality improvement system, so that it can continuously assess the quality improvement based on the PDCA Cycle, particularly in the education process, research process and also in the School’s community services.
  • MBA-IB should show its systematic and explicit Assurance of Learning that explains how its mission is translated into learning goals (LG) and objectives (LO), how its courses are mapped into LG and LO, how the courses are contributing to achieving relevant LG/LO, and how the gaps identified are used to improve the quality of learning process.

II. PRT Comments on the Self-Check/Self-Evaluation Analysis

Chapter 1 Internal Quality Assurance

Standard 1: Administration and Governance

  • MBA-IB allocates administration assignments to faculty members, and there is a table of assignments’ allocation. However, there is no organization structure showing all jobs (faculty and administrative staff) and all the units in MBA-IB.
  • How does the Program or GSBS show that there is a good relationship between the committees (such as collegiality, high degree of openness and participation in decision making) by both faculty members and professional staff?
  • How does the School develop the program of staff development to enhance the efficiency of administrative operations?
  • In the SCR it is stated that “Employee training for career development” programs are conducted for freshman staff members to improve their logical thinking and critical thinking ability. It would be helpful for all staff members to have a career development plan and an annual training plan.
  • Administrative staff members seem to be too busy to attend training programs, but there is no attendance record in the SCR for the training programs for them. The School should find ways to increase the attendance rate, for instance by using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in order to streamline paperwork.
    It has already been clear from the School’s feedback.

Standard 2: Self-Check/Self-Evaluation

  • From the feedback, it is stated that MBA-IB has a Quality Improvement system based of PDCA cycle, and has many meetings involving the faculty members to discuss self-check/self-evaluation. However, there is no explicit explanation in the report about the effectiveness of learning process in achieving LG/LO, and whether the report is shared among faculties and professional staffs.
  • From the feedback, it is stated that MBA-IB involves alumni, students and industry to evaluate the achievement of learning goals and objectives through various activities such as questionnaire surveys. However, there are no explicit examples in the SCR about the evaluation.
  • The SCR says that as a duly constituted program of the University of Tsukuba, MBA-IB continually reviews university-wide midterm plans and goals. However, specific goals were not presented in it. Action plans in the SCR should be developed to achieve the School’s midterm goals.

Standard 3: Improvement of Education and Research Environment

  • From the feedback, it is stated that MBA-IB evaluates the intellectual contributions of faculty members in annual performance report, but there is no explicit explanation in SCR on how intellectual contributions/IC of all the faculties are identified, and how is the target for IC evaluated.
  • How does the School define the quality of the IC? From the feedback, it is stated that MBA-IB evaluates the quality of IC based on the academic standard of GSBS, but there is no appropriate explanation on this in SCR.
  • How does the School guarantee that the IC is relevant to achieving the school’s mission? It is clear from the feedback that the School guarantees that the IC is relevant to achieve the School’s mission by recruiting faculty members whose research fields have close relationships with the mission of MBA-IB.
  • How does the School develop policy to improve the IC? From the feedback, MBA-IB does not have comprehensive policy about it, it only encourages faculty members to publish research and to apply for the research grants.
Chapter 2 Mission Statement

Standard 4: Mission Statement

  • The mission should show the uniqueness of the Program. Is nurturing global leaders a uniqueness of MBA-IB? How does it differ from the other MBA programs in Japan and in the world? From the feedback, it is explained that the uniqueness comes from the fusion of four educational and research areas: business strategy, organizational management, international adaptability, and applied information, with emphasis on the international adaptability. However, this explanation is not clearly related to the mission.
  • How is the uniqueness reflected in the curriculum and research? From the feedback, it is stated that the uniqueness is reflected, but there is no explanation about it.
  • From the feedback, it is stated that MBA-IB evaluates the education process, research process and community services by annual reports to the headquarters of the university in achieving mission. However, there are no examples in the SCR of how MBA-IB evaluates its curriculum and research in achieving the mission.
  • The School has selected 10 core competencies to develop for the next generation of global leaders as follows:
  • Accept change
  • Commitment to success
  • Anticipate problems
  • Gather information
  • Analytical orientation
  • Creative thinking
  • Strategic planning
  • Organization management
  • Communication
  • Risk management.

There must be behavioral levels in each competency. What are the desirable behaviors for each competency?

Standard 5: Mission Imperatives

  • How is the mission translated into research roadmap of MBA-IB?
  • There is no specific unit that supports the career of the students/alumni. It is clear from the feedback that there is a unit that supports career of the students and alumni only in the main campus of the university.
  • Some competencies cannot be developed in a year or two. Does the School support alumni to level up necessary competencies for their career development? From the feedback, it is stated that MBA-IB does not provide specific support to alumni to level up necessary competences for their career development. MBA-IB only invites alumni to attend some specific courses such as guest speaker series. However, there is no comprehensive career development for alumni.

Standard 6: Financial Strategies

  • The School is well recognized within the University to get enough budget. There seem to be good opportunities to enhance its position in the University by strategically formulating and implementing the SCR action plans.
  • There have been ongoing educational reforms in country and university, which have resulted in budget cuts, especially in stable budget. What are the strategies of the MBA-IB (together with the school and university) to handle this problem without sacrificing the quality of the program? In the feedback, it is stated that MBA-IB encourages faculty members to apply for the government research grants and external funds to supplement their education and research activities, and also to begin with industry outreach.
  • The School can enhance collaborations with industry in order to increase donations from companies.
Chapter 3 Educational Programs

Standard 7: Learning Goals

  • How does the School assess students’ competencies? The process should be explained in the SCR.
  • The School needs to specify in SCR the learning goals (LGs) and objectives specifically for MBA-IB, and identify how the goals and objectives are aligned with the School’s mission.
  • From the feedback, it is stated who should constitute the Board. However, there is no description of the systematic process of gathering, analyzing and presenting data to the Board as well as the process of taking the Board comments/ feedback to the next loop of continuous improvement.
  • The School should present (sample, if not all) curriculum mapping between the learning objectives, expected competencies, general knowledge/skills, and courses as a curriculum administration plan. From the report and appendices, it is difficult to see where the learning objectives and expected behavioral competencies (Table 7-4) are delivered or taught.
  • The following workflow shared during the October 5, 2018 on-site visit aims to assist the School to better meet the standards 7 to 13 of this Chapter.

In Step 1, the School defines the mission keywords and develops unique LGs of the MBA-IB program. The LGs must be aligned with the School’s and University’s Mission. LGs contents oftentimes are broad and ambitious.
In Step 2, the School identifies learning objectives, which are specific knowledge, skills and competences necessary and appropriate for the degree level. The learning objectives should be concrete, practical and measurable. The School may consider including the 10 core competencies (in lower slide of page 6 of the presentation material by Prof. Takashi Hirai) as additional set of learning objectives.
In Step 3, the School maps learning objectives with the courses to illustrate where the objectives will be taught and assessed. Next, the School maps the teaching modes as presented in SER Report, Criterion 9-7, page 32, with the courses.
In Step 4, the School develops learning outcome measurement in form of “Rubrics” for scoring and assessing the learning. The famous samples of standardized learning rubrics that were developed by Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) can be found at The rubrics relevant to each particular course and according to the preplanned mapping in Step 2 should be transparently included in the course syllabus so that the students will know the expectations and understand how their learning will be measured.
In Step 5, the faculty members decide where, when and how the learning outcomes (LOs) will be measured within their course (through mid-term exam, paper write-up, self-reflection report, etc.) They then identify the level of LOs achievement. In other words, the faculty members report which percentage of the students achieve “above expectation”, “meet expectation” and “below expectation”, based on the students’ performance and behavior at the assessment point. Next, the faculty members report the percentage of LOs achievement along with their plan to improve. In this course-level improvement the faculty members should identify (1) how they plan to improve their teaching to increase the number of students meeting expectation and performing above expectation, and to reduce the percentage of those below expectation, and/or (2) how they plan to change the method of measuring the learning outcomes if they feel that the rubrics or the assessment approaches are inappropriate. At the curriculum level, they might suggest (1) to change where the learning objectives be delivered as opposed to their own current courses, and/or (2) to coordinate with the faculty members who teach pre-requisite courses or the course after theirs. This will force faculty to work with each other more closely as a team to achieve a common goal. At the program level, the faculty members may suggest the change in administering the program. For example, they might suggest the program to recruit more students from a particular industry or with different profiles.
In Step 6, derived from output of Step 5, all the information from the LOs measurement, the improvement plans at course, curriculum and program levels will be used by appropriate committee for the future revision of courses, curriculum or program.

Standard 8: Curriculum Policy

  • The university of Tsukuba puts an emphasis on inter-discipline. It is good that the School added in 2017 “the Common Area” to reflect the multi-disciplinary scope of some courses which cut across the other four areas of study.
  • It is difficult to see how the courses are aligned with the School’s mission.

Standard 9: Management of Curriculum

  • The School leverages the strengths of Tsukuba University by allowing students to cross-register up to 10 credits outside its boundary. The increasing complexity of corporate challenges nowadays requires multi-disciplinary solutions. Therefore cross-registration should be mandatory in the future, if possible, rather than an option.
  • It suits students’ needs to offer five choices for the Business Project to complete the program. The five choices are:
  • In-Company Project
  • Business Plan Development
  • Independent Research Report
  • Japan Internship
  • Overseas Internship.

Standard 10: Improvement of Educational Quality

  • If demonstrated behaviors of a student do not meet desirable levels of competencies, how does the School deal with it? It is clear from the feedback that the students can take additional courses to raise their GPA until it is adequate to proceed to the Business Project and then graduate once the Business Project receives an acceptable grade.
  • Please see guideline of continuous improvement process for educational quality, presented in comments of Standard 7 above.
  • From the feedback, it is stated that the scoring policy is mentioned in the syllabus for each course. However, the school did not explain the scoring policy which is critical to measuring the learning outcomes of the students. The learning outcome rubrics if designed appropriately can serve as powerful tools to assess the teaching effectiveness and also get feedback information for continuous quality improvement.

Standard 11: Diploma Policy

  • How many students have initially failed to achieve the GPA of 3.0 for the last three years? It is clear from the feedback that there are no such students in the last few years.

Standard 12: Learning Outcomes’ Review

  • Which core competencies are relatively weak among the students? What kind of measures does the School take to deal with this?
  • Given that the School has depended very much on its Advisory Board, the entire process of Standard 7 should be presented to the Advisory Board.

Standard 13: Globalization of Educational Programs

  • It is very nice that the School has conducted a joint course with the Grenoble École de Management in France for the past 9 years, and is considering such courses with other overseas universities. It should be mentioned as an issue to be improved.
  • The MBA-IB at its core is globalized.
Chapter 4 Students

Standard 14: Student Profile

  • It is great to have working students with more than 70% of them in middle to executive level positions.
  • The diversity of the program should not be limited only to nationality.

Standard 15: Admission Policy

  • On its website the School describes “Who Should Apply” as follows: Those who aim to become a professional manager with a central role at the head office or foreign-affiliate of an international company, or in transregional business projects. It would be better to include the characteristics of ambitious individuals who want to become responsible global leaders.
  • The student body seems to be international. The School should systematically set the target ratio of the student body. For instance, how many percent of all students should be Japanese? It is clear from the feedback that MBA-IB does not discriminate, but this means that it does not set predetermined percentage of international students.
  • The concerns regarding admission results that emerged during the on-site visit are: the declining number of students from America and Europe, and the overwhelming number of Asian applicants. Therefore, once the School sets the target, it can implement a more aggressive strategy to recruit the future batch of students according to the goal.

Standard 16: Student Selection

  • Among the 17 students who are non-Japanese and have entered the School in 2017 and 2018, only one student is from the United States and there is no one from Western Europe. Considering the number of American and European expats in Tokyo, the School can take action to improve the composition of its students. It is not mentioned as an issue to be improved in SCR, however, it is. The feedback states that MBAIB has started some industry outreach activities which can hopefully help to increase the number of students from these regions.
  • Since the School does not define the term “ambitious individuals”, it is difficult to see how it recruit and select the new students.

Standard 17: Student Support

  • We understand from SCR that the School has its own scholarship system and is recognized by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare as a professional training course. As such, students who meet the qualification and apply through Hello work are eligible to receive part of their fees back as a professional training grant. What we do not know is actual utilization. How many students are getting admission and tuition fees exemption? How many students are receiving professional training grant? Is the situation satisfactory? The feedback states that more than 60% of MBA-IB students are receiving the benefit.
  • From student/ alumni interview during the site visit, it was clear that the students are mature and demand little support. They are basically capable of working independently.

Standard 18: Student Incentive

Three students with high academic achievements receive special recognition during the commencement ceremony. Isn’t there any need for improvement, for instance a need to introduce degree with distinction on this matter? The feedback states that MBA-IB follows the degree granting rules of the university which does not award formal distinctions.

Standard 19: Student Diversity

  • Tsukuba Short-term Study program (“TSSP”) which enables the students to spend from one to several weeks and take courses at 10 partner universities located in North America, Europe and Asia, is highly appreciated.
  • See comments on Standard 15.
Chapter 5 Faculty

Standard 20: Faculty Structure

  • 14 full-time faculty members teach 166 courses while there are 10 supporting faculty members teaching 11 courses only. It seems that the School could utilize more visiting professors/lectures to offer courses which will enhance the attractiveness of the program.
  • Faculty diversity is well maintained even though the size of the faculty is small.

Standard 21: Faculty Qualifications

  • For the hiring of faculty members, the School uses student evaluations. It corresponds to the level 1:Reaction of the four levels of the Kirkpatrick Model for training course evaluation. It would be better to find a way to assess the effectiveness for level 3:Behavior as well as the level 2:Learning. Especially behavioral development is important when course’s learning objective shows competencies to enhance.
  • The School should find a better way of assessing whether faculty members can develop students’ competencies.
  • On Page 60 there is a sentence where “XX” should be replaced by the actual number:
    “Average number of research achievements per faculty/per year is XX (see Criterion 21-4)”.

Standard 22: Maintenance of Education and Research Environment

  • The standard number of courses for faculty members are described in Criterion 22-1, but there seem to be discrepancies with the table 20-4-1. As is clear from the feedback, it is not inconsistent.
  • The SCR says there is no issue to be improved regarding the research funds for the faculty members. However, it also says that 400,000 JPY for each is not enough and there is an additional fund of 1.4 million JPY for the whole faculty. Are there no other issues to be improved? However, the feedback states that in addition to research fund from MBA-IB, MBA-IB and University of Tsukuba supports the acquisition of Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research. MBA-IB successfully acquired 10 Mln JPY every year as a total.
  • It is hard to believe there are no issues to be improved for the standard 22. However in the feedback MBA-IB stated several improvement areas such as administrative works and shorter research time especially for junior faculty, lack of clear reward system for excellent academic record designed by MBA-IB, etc.

Standard 23: Responsibilities of Faculty Members

  • Again there are no issues to be improved for the standard 23. It seems the student evaluation could be reviewed to include the behavioral change/competency development.

Standard 24: Faculty Diversity

  • It is not clear in SCR whether the exchange program for the faculty members is working or not. However, the feedback states that international research collaborations are basically done on individual basis. So it is not a program-wide initiative. But exchanges are going well.
Chapter 6 Educational Infrastructure

Standard 25: Educational Infrastructure

  • Do students and other stakeholders request nothing concerning the improvement of educational infrastructure? There is request, mentioned in the feedback, that some students complain that IT infrastructure is not user-friendly. The issue is hard to solve since this is controlled by university headquarters.

Standard 26: Globalization of Educational Infrastructure

  • The SCR says “there are no significant needs of facility improvement from cultural perspective.” However, one need emerged during the feedback – recently a student from Indonesia requested to use a quiet place for praying. MBA-IB has started to provide a room for praying according to the School policy.
  • Are there any students who are working professionals living in a residence offered by the University of Tsukuba? It is clear from the feedback, that there are no students living in a school dormitory, since almost all students already live in Tokyo area and there is no need for residence support.

III. The School’s Quality Improvement

1. The School’s Quality Improvement System

  • There are many committees and meetings for Quality Improvement according to SCR. However, it seems that they do not identify issues to be improved appropriately. We believe the School is performing well, but we also believe that there is still a lot of room for improvement.
  • What is important is to become a better educational organization than ever. It is possible to perform better than best. The School should instill this attitude.

2. The School’s Improvement Issues

  • We advise the School to implement systematic approach to identify issues for improvement, and systematic learning process to improve.
  • In sum, the major concern about issues to be improved for MBA-IB program is the lack of systematic approach.

3. The School’s Improvement Initiatives

  • It would be better to set specific mid-term goals/objectives.

4. The School’s Action Plans for three years

  • It became clear that the School has more concreate action plans than those described in SCR. Specific action plans, not the general policies, should be compiled in Kaizen report in the future.