Globalisation and leadership should go hand in hand, and in today's business environment, executives are increasingly required to work outside their country of origin or the region they are familiar with, and it can sometimes take months for them to adjust to a new working environment. As well as giving instruction on economics, finance and accounting, MBA courses should provide students with guidance and learning about cross-cultural scenarios, different languages, and doing business in various societies. Some do better than others, according to Gordon Redding, Euro-Asia and Comparative Research Centre (EACrc) director at the Insead business school in Paris, but for the most part, MBAs are not doing well at imparting the necessary skills that will help students be successful managers. Professor Redding said most MBA programmes were failing their students in the soft skills - such as teaching them how to adapt to different cultures and operate as managers within them. He said because most academics preferred to focus on the quantitative skills such as finance and economics, the skills that would help MBA graduates to hit the ground running in different countries were being neglected. 'It's usually given low priority,' said Professor Redding, of these soft skills. 'It's difficult to teach; there aren't many people who specialise in it and it has to compete with the big disciplines, which are deeply entrenched, such as accounting, economics, strategy, leadership and organisational behaviour, on which there is a huge amount of literature, highly organised textbooks and a heavily established set of faculty who know what to do with those subjects. Most MBAs are structured around those principles. 'And that teaching is almost mechanical, in that you get people to work through a textbook, then you test them, and they go away and they say 'I know economics, strategy and so on'. The cultural, international stuff is much more subtle than that.' Alan Au Kai-ming, associate professor of the Lee Shau Kee School of Business and Administration at the Open University of Hong Kong, said his students were invited to go on study tours to Malaysia, Shanghai and Japan. 'It's an opportunity to visit companies and universities, and provides the students with first-hand information on how other companies operate and opens their eyes to a lot of other cultural issues. It also shows them the management issues that executives in other regions have to face as well.' Mike Hall, administrative director, OneMBA, Global Executive MBA programme, Faculty of Business Administration, at Chinese University, said MBA courses had faced criticism after research done by the London Business School and others showed that, 'MBA business schools were getting several complaints from corporate institutions around the world that we weren't turning out students with enough communication or soft skills'. The OneMBA course has tackled this in several ways. It consists of five schools around the world which recruit locally - from the United States, Mexico, Brazil, the Netherlands and Hong Kong and China. Part of the course was to meet up in the US for a week and then come back to their home countries and work in global teams. 'This leads to cross-cultural understanding. It's a global class, there are 110 students. Teams meet up for one week and then over the next three months, they have to work across timelines on a global project,' Mr Hall said. 'This mirrors what's happening in the corporate world.' Patrick Tam Chee-li found that studying the OneMBA programme at Chinese University had helped him to understand global markets better. He graduated last year. Mr Tam, general manager for consulting for a US-based company, enjoyed the mix of tuition he received during his OneMBA studies. 'The course is a combination of five schools, which I thought was unique. It allows opportunities for residencies in Mexico, Monterey and Europe. Through Chinese University every six months you can go to a new location. You are able to understand global markets better. There is a concentration on looking at things globally.' Professor Redding said that European business schools were better at getting the cross-cultural message across than their American counterparts because they were situated in an environment where the next country, often only an hour away, was likely to have different customs and language. 'American business schools have gone through periods of heartache about this,' he said. One of the ways in which schools had tried to improve the situation was through alliances with schools in other parts of the world. For example, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania had a partnership with the National University of Singapore; half an Insead MBA was also spent in Singapore, which had some positive effect, Professor Redding said. The University of Hong Kong and others have also been working hard at establishing Asian case studies for the students, as the American business schools tend to focus on case studies that suit American models and may be less applicable in this region. 'In order to understand core differences between societies you have to take a multidisciplinary view,' he said, adding it was all about picking up a mental toolkit to be managers in a multicultural setting, and MBA courses needed to work harder to provide that.