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 actual student learning, operational effectiveness, and mission achievement. Therefore, for IACBE purposes, “academic quality” is defined to be the overall 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 and 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 are accomplished through a comprehensive program of outcomes assessment.
Adequate quantitative and qualitative levels of human, financial, and physical resources are essential factors in determining academic quality and operational effectiveness. However, the overall quality of 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 principles pertaining to measures of academic resources and educational processes as well as outcomes assessment. These principles are based on best practices in business education, and are designed to promote excellence in business education through a benchmarking process, which is helpful in determining the extent to which the academic business unit is achieving its mission and its student learning and operational goals.
The IACBE bases its accreditation reviews on principles rather than standards. Standards and principles are similar in that both may be used to evaluate academic quality. 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, principles allow for a continuum of accomplishment and are used to assess outcomes, evaluate progress toward excellence, and encourage continuous improvement. Since academic business units are unique, with differing missions, goals, processes, and intended learning outcomes, there is no standard that fits all academic business units, but there are principles that can apply to all academic business units.
The IACBE is committed to a developmental approach to achieving excellence in business education. The IACBE and its members function in a collaborative and cooperative manner, and encourage each other 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.