Building adaptive capacity in online graduate management education

Deborah Hurst, Ana Azevedo, Pamela Hawranik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Increasingly, employers state that university graduates are not "work ready" meaning graduates do not possess the combined academic disciplinary knowledge and professional skills needed in the workplace. Such include strong communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, continuous learning and creative problem-solving. Though educators attempt to address these concerns, questions remain. Building on ideas from Griffin and Heskath (Australian Journal of Psychology, 55(2), 65-73, 2003) and Pulakos et al. (Journal of Applied Psychology, 85(4), 612-624, 2000), this paper proposes the construct of adaptive capacity as a key capability that may help to address this perceived knowledge/skills gap. Using one online educator's example, we explain how adaptive capacity can be developed within the context of an online MBA program directly mirroring skills needed increasingly in workplaces today. The authors begin this chapter with pertinent literature and summarized key findings regarding what employers perceive as skills gaps among graduate students and suggest techniques around building adaptive capacity that might assist higher education institutions in developing future work-ready graduates. The authors then propose key learning processes and outcomes synergistically combined to increase graduate students' adaptive capacity. Key processes and outcomes to dimensions of adaptive performance, the main dependent variable that can be predicted from adaptive capacity, are noted. This paper advances the concept of "adaptive capacity" as the key and enduring competency construct composed of a set of skills that needs to be developed within the context of online graduate business education programs. As such, the authors suggest that instead of a continued focus on the lack of current work-ready graduates, educators and employers alike need to instead privilege the adaptive capacity building and producing of "future work-ready graduates," meaning graduates ready for both current and future work. This paper concludes with a discussion of key implications for management educators.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOn the Line
Subtitle of host publicationBusiness Education in the Digital Age
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783319627762
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep. 2017


  • Adaptive capacity
  • Graduate business education
  • Work-ready graduates and future work-ready graduates


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