The resilience of the MBA in emerging economies: student motivations for wanting an MBA in China and the United Arab Emirates

In recent years, domestic demand for MBAs has fallen in most major Western markets but has increased or remained stable in emerging economies such as China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which are the two countries globally that host the largest numbers of international branch campuses. Thus, this research aimed to discover why students in China and the UAE still want an MBA. A survey questionnaire was completed by a total of 354 MBA students, at two universities in China and two universities in the UAE. Some of the results were surprising and unexpected. For example, recognition, prestige and networking – all key features in Chinese and Emirati societies – were found not to be key motivators for wanting an MBA. Instead, the desire to acquire knowledge and skills was the strongest motivator among respondents, accounting for 32.4 per cent of variance. This was followed by reasons associated with intrinsic benefits. The findings have implications for institutional strategy, curriculum design, programme delivery and the marketing of programmes.
management education, master of business administration, student decision-making, careers, higher education marketing, Unites Arab Emirates (UAE)