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updated: 4/19/2017 11:47 AM

Looking at current trends when teaching graduate level classes

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Current trends in business have a tremendous impact in what we are discussing in the executive classrooms today. Whether it is a management or statistics course, without addressing current trends, we would be teaching 'from the textbook,' which is far from what today's executive is seeking in a graduate business degree.

Having worked for decades with master's-level and doctoral students, I've seen three major trends emerge: Women in management, the impact of global business and the need for changing, more agile organizations.

1. Women and work

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women account for 51 percent of all workers employed in management, professional and related occupations, which is more than their share of total employment (47 percent). In the business world, nearly 40 percent of all managers are women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In some management occupations, the percentage of women was even higher. For example, according to the BLS, females in human resources roles make up about 74 percent of the workforce at an average salary of $1,283 weekly. Information like this is not only helpful for the organizations -- it helps our Daniel L. Goodwin College of Business at Benedictine to be at the forefront of the needs of students.

Understanding women in the workforce continues to be a trend, in that the percentage of women in work has nearly doubled in only 25 years. Topics such as work and life balance, glass ceiling and gender issues in the global arena are prevalent.

2. The impact of global business

You can no longer think that working in your Chicago-area office and not traveling protects you from working in the global arena. If your customers and clients purchase from other countries and merge with global partners, you will be impacted by global business. Executives today want to learn how to better work within the global arena, for example, how organizations can address the human capital side of global mergers and acquisitions and how financial investments are impacted by the global market.

3. Changing, and the more agile organizations

All of these changes require organizations to be more adaptable as employees must be quicker to adjust and change in the changing world. The business discipline of Change and Organization Development can provide tools to facilitate successful corporate changes.

Organization development is the field dedicated to study and practice of effective organization change. It is a field that has become increasing popular and essential as the environment for organizations continues to change at an ever-accelerating pace. OD consultants offer a range of methods from developing and implementing strategy, team development to leadership development, organization and culture. In brief, the creation of high performance and high commitment organizations is what leaders are requiring of their workforce. Over the years these methods have been tested, refined and widely used. But what is trending in business research and what is receiving more attention today is something called "Agility."

Major new insights and our understanding of organizational agility appeared more than the 50 years ago in the 1950s with organizational studies coming from England and Scotland, followed by work in the United States at Harvard Business School. This work indicated that certain organization designs were more effective in responding to changes in their environment. This topic of organization design has now been reignited as organizations are faced with increasingly complex and changing environments.

The renewed interest in the characteristics of adaptable and responsive organizations now is referred to as the "agile" organization. Agility describes the ability of an organization to be aware of and effectively respond to changes in its environment, which is a critical factor in the long-term survival of an organization. Three U.S. business school programs currently studying the topic of organizational agility include the University of Southern California, Columbia University and Benedictine University's Ph.D. in Organization Development program.

Other trending topics in our management classes include

• Technological changes

• Generational challenges in the workforce

• Corporate sustainability and its impact in our daily work

• Therese Yaeger is a professor, Ph.D. in Organization Development at Benedictine University.