Saturday, April 15, 2023

Royal Roads Goes Global

Dr. Dave Martin, recently appointed Dean of the School of Business, Royal Roads University, Victoria just returned to his office having met with the University President. At the November 2005 University Board Meeting, it was decided that the university must accelerate its transformation into a global institution. Dave pondered the President’s question, “Dave, I want you to identify some initiatives the School of Business might implement to achieve a global sustainable competitive advantage?”  Dave promised the President to return on Monday with his preliminary thoughts.


In 1994, budgetary constraints compelled the Department of National Defense to announce the closure of Royal Roads Military College. On June 21st 1995, the Royal Roads University Act created a unique institution, Royal Roads University. The B.C. Government designed the university to respond to the needs of people in a rapidly changing workplace.  The university primarily offered applied and professional programs to adult learners; a fundamental difference from traditional universities. Its mandate included:

  • a corporate organizational model designed to adapt to change;
  • to become increasingly self-sufficient financially;
  • advisory boards that design and guide program curriculum;
  • use of the Internet to deliver courses;
  • performance-based faculty appointments;
  • teaching excellence certification; and
  • a consumer-focused, continuous quality improvement philosophy that permeated all programs and services[1].

The Board of Governors, on 1 November 2005, appointed a British international educator, Dr. Bill Alden, as President. Upon being appointed, Alden observed,  “… I’m confident that together we will move the university to another level of excellence in a global learning environment.”

One of his first acts was to hire a Dean for the Faculty of Management (FoM).

Dean, Dave Martin.  “Hired with a mandate for global growth”

Martin, an experienced global business practitioner and professional engineer, was appointed the Dean of the FoM in December, 2005.  Prior to this appointment, Martin was the Managing Director and CEO of an Enterprise Development entity, at an Ontario large University.

MBA Industry

The Canadian educational industry revenues in 2003 were $23.5 billion. The domestic industry is in the mature lifecycle stage. There were 642,005 MBA graduates in Canada in 2001. Between 2000 and 2003 the Executive Masters of Business (EMBA) programs revenues nationally increased by 43%.  Royal Roads University was the 4th largest EMBA institution in Canada with revenues of $8.1 million in 2003.  It was becoming increasingly difficult for Canadian business schools to fill the 400 vacant doctoral teaching positions. Demographics indicated that this situation would be exacerbated as the baby boomers reached 65[2].

The drivers of globalization – technology, deregulation, and cheap transportation are reshaping the educational industry. Most business schools are racing to enter international markets and many have adopted joint ventures or partnerships as modes of entry.  The international market place is in the growth stage of the industry lifecycle.  To illustrate, China has over 200 million potential MBA candidates and there is a hunger for western business education.  China has indicated its preference for Canadian texts and educators because of their fear of the spread of American ideology[3].

RRU MBA programs in silos

Initially, the MBA programs had been managed by two separate and sometimes competing departments – Domestic (FoM) and International (Global and Executive Education).  In late November 2005, Alden decided that the international MBA programs would be transferred to the FoM as part of the new global strategy.

MBA (Domestic)

The MBA Programs featured two years of intensive, interdisciplinary study.  The programs are intensive, and designed using a blended team-based model permitting mid-career learners to remain employed while pursuing a master’s degree.  The unique nature of the program design allowed Royal Roads University to utilize visiting professors from around the world whose contributions to their specialization area are well known and respected.

The average MBA learner has a minimum of seven years managerial experience and is thirty eight years old.  Learners are generally senior managers from the public and private sectors and the class populations are about 48% male, 51% female (see Ex 1- MBA Statistics). About 10% of the faculty was educated abroad. A significant number of the faculty were white males. Forty percent of faculty did not have doctorates.

There were four MBA Programs: Digital Technologies Management, Human Resources Management, Public Relations and Communication Management, and Executive Management (which offers specializations in Educational Administration, Global Aviation Management, Leadership, and Management Consulting). Royal Roads University provides the unique advantage of three-week residencies combined with innovative, internet-based distance learning.

MBA (International)

Royal Roads International Programs are offered in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Mainland China, Malaysia, and Iran.  Three additional venues were under negotiation and would also become the FoM’s responsibility.

The market entry strategy had been to establish partnering relationships within the host countries, often at local Universities.  RRU often hired faculty from these partnered institutions. The most recent venture involved thirty-nine Iranian Royal Roads MBA learners undertaking their studies in partnership with Sharif University of Technology in Iran.

The international MBA Programs provided for all instruction to be delivered face-to-face; courses were delivered on evenings and weekends; case-study content was adjusted for the cross-cultural differences in the host markets; a greater focus on individual case competition rather than teams; and program completion took approximately 15 – 18 months.

Classes are predominantly represented by CEO, CFO, and senior managers.  The learners’ average age is mid- to late thirties and class’s composition was approximately 60% male, 40% female. About 90% of the faculty were educated abroad, and are global instructors.  Only 10% of faculty did not have doctorates.

Martin’s preliminary thoughts.

Martin reflected on the School’s accomplishments to date attempting to formulate some thoughts for Monday morning’s meeting. What were the immediate opportunities his department might exploit to make a contribution to Royal Roads University’s vision of becoming a world-class global institution?

First Dave thought about the demographics of the MBA Alumni.  They were mid-life professionals, strategically placed globally; that clearly represented an underutilized asset. He said to himself, “It appears we have the advantage more than anybody else[4]. Was there a way to strengthen and build on the university’s relationship with the international Alumni?

Second, it was clear that the MBA programs (domestic and international) were different. The programs had different key success factors.  Dave knew he would have to harmonize the two programs. However, there were many issues he would have to resolve. The tension between offering one universal MBA program based on the domestic content and tailoring the program materials from venue to venue to accommodate the international cross-cultural differences was clear. Would the very successful domestic, team-based blended model of face-to-face residencies combined with online delivery exploiting new multimedia technology work in a global environment? What would be the organization’s structure domestically and internationally? Will the domestic program need more faculty diversity? What mode of entry ? Indeed what countries should he consider?

Third, he wondered about the currency (relevancy) of the existing programs and content. Will they have to be redesigned to meet the demands of a global marketplace?

What would you advise Dave to propose to President Alden on Monday morning?


Royal Roads Goes Global

MBA Programs – 2004 Intake

Total Intake (as of June 26, 2021): 177
Average Age: 38
MBA in Digital Technologies Management: 11.9%
MBA in Executive Management: 24.9%
MBA in EX with specialization in Global Aviation Management: 1.7%
MBA in EX with specialization in Leadership: 27.7%
MBA in EX with specialization in Management Consulting: 10.7%
MBA in Human Resources Management: 13.0%
MBA in Public Relations & Communication Management: 10.2%



Female: 51.4%
From the Victoria Area: 17.5%
From British Columbia: 55.4%
From other provinces: 40.7%
From outside Canada: 3.9%






Summary of Learners – 2003

Country Granted Continuing Total

Bangladesh – MBA







China  – MBA 953 386 1339
Taiwan – MBA 186 189 375
Malaysia – MBA 11 15 26
Hong Kong – MBA 17 17
Iran – MBA 39 39
International 1,345 900 2,245

Domestic MBA







                 BCom 1028 249 1277

Total Learners








[1] This was a unique institutional model for 1995.  Since the establishment of the blended model, many competitors have adopted the model.

[2] These materials were contained in a number of articles in a special MBA edition published by Canadian Business. October 25-Novermber 7, 2004.

[3] Globe and Mail xxxx October 2004.

[4] Exhibit 1.  Global statistics MBA Alumina. This exhibit indicated Royal Roads University has a significant MBA Alumni base. Over 70% of Royal Roads University’s MBA alumni are living and working offshore.

Instructor’s suggested answers to these case questions, including PowerPoint slides, can be made available by contacting.

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Terrance Power
Terrance Power is a Wharton Fellow and professor of strategic and international studies with the Faculty of Management at Royal Roads University in Victoria. This article was published in the Business Edge. Power can be reached at


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