Mainland economic reforms have fuelled a huge demand for highly qualified managers which is not currently being met, officials at an international business school say.
David Southworth, vice-president of China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, said many mainland joint ventures or state enterprises still had managers who were unfamiliar with multinational and international business.
Joint ventures in Shanghai multiplied three to four times in 1992 alone, Mr Southworth said. 'They [China] have no history of management training - there isn't enough knowledge or expertise.' He said the tradition of a planned economy resulted in different, or a complete lack of, concepts such as marketing, administration and finance.
'They don't have the necessary balance between academic and the business world,' Mr Southworth said.
About 30 institutes were offering management training in China now, he said, and the number and quality was increasing rapidly. At the other end of the scale, there was also the 'brain-drain' problem with many top students and academics going aboard.
CEIBS was founded in 1994 by Shanghai Jiaotong University and the European Foundation for Management Development in Brussels and has become a leading business school in China. It is also China's first and only joint-venture educational institution of postgraduate management.
According to Pedro Nueno, Bertran Foundation Professor of Entrepreneurial Management, CEIBS's MBA and executive development courses have attracted much of China's elite management.
A recent information day showed it had an annual intake of around 300 full- time MBA and part-time executive MBA students, and more than 5,000 applicants were expected.
In 1995, when the school first started, 50 candidates were accepted on the MBA course. This year, the number grew to nearly 200 and was estimated to rise to 250 over the next three years.
Applicants were already top manager and quality candidates, he said, but there was only limited space on the courses. 'The pressure is even higher and there is a tremendous demand,' Professor Nueno said.
Last year, 1,250 managers were trained and this year's target was 1,800. The CEIBS students had an average age of 27 to 28 and 56 per cent were general managers. They came mainly from state enterprises (51 per cent) and foreign companies (39 per cent). Others came from the government (8 per cent) and from the private sector (2 per cent).
In 1999, the school will move to new 40,000-square-metre custom-designed premises, built to international standards, in Pudong on the Jin Qiao development zone, Shanghai. So far, it has raised US$11 million for the first phase of construction.