> Philosophy of Accreditation
The IACBE’s Philosophy of Accreditation
In promoting and fostering excellence in business education, the IACBE takes a mission-driven and outcomes-based approach to accreditation, in which the assurance of academic quality is based on the results of the assessment of educational outcomes rather than prescriptive input standards. Academic resource measures, i.e., the inputs into the educational process, do not by themselves provide prima facie evidence of the degree of academic quality. Just as managers and business organizations are evaluated in terms of their performance and not solely on input-related criteria, so too should academic business units be evaluated on the results of their efforts. Consequently, the focus should be on the value of those resources to the stakeholders of the academic business unit and its parent institution in terms of their ability to perform, i.e., their ability to produce measurable results or outcomes pertaining to student learning, operational effectiveness, and the achievement of the academic business unit’s mission. Therefore, for IACBE purposes, ‘academic quality’ in business education is defined to be the level of performance of the academic business unit in the context of its mission as measured by the extent of accomplishment of the unit’s intended student learning outcomes, its intended operational outcomes, and its mission and broad-based goals. The determination of the degree to which desired results are being achieved and the demonstration of academic quality in business education are accomplished through a comprehensive program of outcomes assessment.
Adequate quantitative and qualitative levels of human, financial, and physical resources are important factors in determining academic quality. However, the overall quality of business education also depends on the educational processes used by the academic business unit to convert those resources to outcomes. These include such processes as teaching and other faculty interactions with students; faculty development and scholarly activities; curricular review and enhancement; and strategic planning. Therefore, given the vital roles played by inputs and processes, the IACBE’s quality assurance process involves a comprehensive set of accreditation criteria pertaining to academic resource measures and educational processes as well as quality assessment and advancement. These criteria are based on best practices in business education, are designed to promote excellence in business education, and are used in determining the extent to which the academic business unit is achieving its mission, goals, and intended outcomes.
The IACBE bases its accreditation reviews on ‘principles’ rather than standards. Accreditation standards and principles are similar in that both may be used to evaluate academic quality in business education. However, the use of prescriptive input standards involves the specification of arbitrary thresholds and assumes that their achievement ensures high-quality outcomes, which is not necessarily the case. On the other hand, accreditation principles serve as fundamental guides that represent what is desirable in terms of academic quality, allow for a continuum of accomplishment, provide benchmarks for evaluating progress toward excellence, and are used to encourage continuous improvement. Given their differing missions, goals, processes, intended outcomes, and environmental settings, there is no standard that universally fits all academic business units. However, principles can apply generally across a variety of environmental, organizational, and institutional contexts, and enable an academic business unit to maintain its organizational culture and identity and to be innovative and creative in the design and implementation of its programs, processes, and operations.
The IACBE is committed to a developmental approach to fostering and advancing excellence in business education. The IACBE and its members function in a collaborative and cooperative manner in a shared journey toward higher levels of quality in business education.
The IACBE is both flexible and innovative in applying its philosophy of accreditation. It recognizes that business education takes place within a dynamic, complex environment that requires innovative approaches to achieving high-quality educational outcomes.