KAIST Business School was founded in September 2006 to efficiently manage the Graduate School of Management, founded in 1996, the Graduate School of Finance and the Graduate School of Information and Media Management. The School utilizes KAIST's original Seoul campus, after an extensive renovation last year.
Dean and Vice President Bae Soonhoon said in an interview with the Korea IT Times: "This is a spin-out of the Department of Financial Engineering, the Department of Management Science, and the Department of Computer Science. Some of the faculty from those departments gathered here to make what they call the Graduate School of Techno-Management."
The school focuses on technology management. According to Bae, the school does lean more towards the IT area, because of the amount of faculty who are focused in that area. The school teaches Enterprise Resource Management (ERP), e-commerce, and Customer Relations Management (CRM). "These are three important factors in IT-based management," said the Vice President. He went on to mention that CRM and supply-chain management are big problems for IT-based management in Korea.
The Dean spoke about the process of creating the graduate school which began with the School of Finance. A number of faculty who wished to focus on what he called financial engineering, or handling the stock market, investment banking, mergers and acquisition came together to create the School.
"And then we extended that to a Graduate School of Finance last year, which focused on economics and finance. They supported establishing this, so we had three courses. One is Techno-Management, and the second is Media and Information, and the third degree is in Finance. So three graduate schools are considered as a business school," explained Vice President Bae.
He considers that the Korean economy started out with heavy industry, and then moved on to semiconductors, LCDs, and mobile handsets, which all come from foreign imported technology.
The Dean thinks that the most important idea now is to find the best way to manage all this imported technology, which is the major theme of the Techno-Management degree.
Bae spoke about the growing technology industry in Korea, by saying that the small and medium IT business industry is currently recovering from a 2001 dot.com bubble collapse. "I think that this time everyone is more cautious, and it is a very steady recovery. A very healthy recovery," he judged. He acknowledged that very large technology companies, while exerting a very large control over the tech market, do not necessarily stifle growth. In his opinion the large companies provide opportunities for the small companies to fill. And in the light of the upcoming free trade agreements with places like the US and the EU, small and medium enterprises can have a greater opportunity to grow.
When asked about KAIST's relationship to other business schools in the Asia- Pacific region, Bae noted that KAIST chose to become a founding member of the Association of Asia-Pacific Business Schools (AAPBS), rather than to join the older Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. He said that the decision to form the AAPBS was due to regional reasons. While he acknowledged that the principles of business were the same all over the world, he said that applying the principles of business in Asia was slightly different proposition, and that the AAPBS focused on those slight differences. AAPBS includes Tsinghua University of China and Keio University in Japan.
In Dean Bae's opinion, KAIST compares favorably to other universities in the AAPBS. He did say, however: "We have to use more English. We offer 100% English courses in the Finance School and the IT Media School, however the original school still uses 30% English and the other 70% in the Korean language. So we have to upgrade to use more English in this institution." Other than that, he said that using other measurements such as research paper production and teaching material quality was about equal between other institutions. He added at the end that one hundred percent of KAIST's faculty was educated in the US, and said that indicated a slightly higher level of globalization than other Asian schools.
The Dean is working closely with industry leaders to guide Korea to a new level of success. "You know our shipbuilding industry is becoming a world leader. We are trying to convert that industry to a global leader industry rather than a local industry." KAIST is offering special education programs for top executives of Hyundai, Daewoo, Samsung, and other shipbuilding companies.
The Vice President acknowledges the importance of this industry and is customizing programs for this particular industry. The Business School is also trying to turn Korea into a financial hub in Asian business. When asked how long it would take before seeing significant results within those industries, Bae said that everyone should see results almost immediately in the shipbuilding industry. In the finance sector, he estimated that it might take a little longer.
When asked how he is planning to improve the Business School in the future to be an even better resource, the Dean said that he would like to hire more professors, but otherwise the institute was comfortable. He said that close governmental and industry support has taken care of all the needs of the institute and that rather than meeting existing needs or solving existing problems he was in the unique position of having to identify new problems and recognizing new needs in order to improve the institute further. "We have to grow a little bit yet," he said. "But considering our small size we are top class. We have to grow to a larger size. We have to reach some critical mass to be recognized as a world class institution." Dr. Bae estimates that when the amount of faculty grows from the current amount of 50 to 100, the critical mass will be achieved.
Philosophy of globalization
On the Philosophy page of the KAIST Business School web site, it says that globalization no longer means simply doing business overseas. It means progression toward a fully-open system that is interwoven multi-dimensionally and internationally. Developing a global perspective is an essential trait for today's managers and policymakers. This is emphasized at KBS through the Global- TIPS, highlighted in Integration of Cross- Disciplinary Functions. Future leaders and managers will take on the role of functional coordinators and will require a new kind of leadership ability. The task of decision-making and problem solving in today's complex environment calls for analytical ability and a professional foundation in key functional areas.
Dr. Bae sends a message to the Korean people. "Today, we are living in a world of rapid technological change and globalization. In this competitive environment, it is essential for organizations to recognize new opportunities and face new challenges."