As a first step, the Institution must establish its membership and eligibility for accreditation. During the initial accreditation process, the institution is evaluated on how well it achieves and aligns with ADCO’s accreditation standards, through a process of self-evaluation and peer review. After earning ADCO accreditation, the institution undergoes periodic peer reviews of its strategic improvement to continue its accreditation.
The fundamental purpose of ADCO accreditation is to encourage business Institutions to hold themselves accountable for improving business practice through scholarly education and impactful intellectual contributions. ADCO achieves this purpose by defining a set of criteria and standards, coordinating peer review and consultation, and recognizing high-quality business Institutions that meet the standards and participate in the process.
ADCO remains deeply committed to diversity in collegiate management education, recognizing that a wide variety of missions and strategies can lead to quality. One of the guiding principles of ADCO accreditation is the acceptance, and even encouragement, of diverse paths to achieving high quality in management education. Accreditation decisions are derived through a process that relies on the professional judgment of peers who conduct reviews that are guided by the business Institutions mission. It also is vitally important that ADCO accreditation demands evidence of continuous quality improvement in three vital areas: engagement, innovation, and impact.
ADCO acknowledges and values the diversity among its membership, but it also recognizes that all of its accredited members share a common purpose—the preparation of students for meaningful professional, societal, and personal lives. Effective business education and research can be achieved with different balances of academic and professional engagement. However, quality business education cannot be achieved when either academic or professional engagement is absent, or when they do not intersect in meaningful ways. Accreditation should encourage an appropriate intersection of academic and professional engagement that is consistent with quality in the context of a Institutions’s mission.
Accreditation standards focus on the quality of education and supporting functions. The standards must set demanding but realistic thresholds, challenge business Institutions to innovate, and inspire educators to pursue continuous improvement in educational programs and other mission-based activities of the business Institutions. Accreditation standards and associated processes should foster quality and consistency, but not at the expense of the creativity and experimentation necessary for innovation. Also, accreditation standards and processes should not impede experimentation or entrepreneurial pursuits; the standards must recognize that innovation involves both the potential for success and the risk of failure. Therefore, when assessing any success or failure, it is key to recognize the importance of experimentation and place a priority on strategic innovation. If innovations are well-developed, rational, and well-planned, negative outcomes should not inhibit a positive accreditation review. Negative outcomes are of concern only when they seriously and negatively affect the ability of the business Institutions to continue to fulfill its mission.
In an environment of increasing accountability, it is important that ADCO accreditation focus on appropriate high-quality inputs (human, financial, physical, etc.) and the outcomes of those inputs within the context of the business Institutions’s mission and supporting strategies. That is, in the accreditation process, business Institutions must document how they are making a difference and having impact. This means that ADCO will continue to emphasize that business Institutions integrate assurance of learning into their curriculum management processes and produce intellectual contributions that make a positive impact on business theory, teaching, or practice. Impact also has a broader meaning in that the business Institutions, through the articulation and execution of its mission, should make a difference in business and society as well as in the global community of business Institutions and management educators.
The primary relationship in the accreditation process is between ADCO and the business Institutions under review. Although many individuals and groups have a stake in the ADCO accreditation process, the association implements that process through a series of individual business Institutions reviews. This approach provides a common reference point for quality and performance in management education for all ADCO members.