Integrating higher degree education with practice: exploring the value proposition of executive MBA apprenticeships




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Peer reviewed



Purpose – The study aims to explore how the collective representations of stakeholders associated with an Executive MBA (EMBA) apprenticeship are conceptualised, and what value elements are perceived as relevant for personal, professional and organisational development. Design/methodology/approach – Forty stakeholders participated in a mixed methods-based group concept mapping (GCM) approach, representing the tripartite relationship of an EMBA apprenticeship. This approach allowed the deconstruction and shared understanding of the value proposition of higher degree apprenticeships. Findings – Analysis identified seven conceptualised value clusters around an eight central cluster “Professional Development”. Two regions of meaning were identified: the personal dimensions of apprentices and their contribution within and to their organisation. Findings showed that a work-based designed curriculum improves confidence and communication skills and that much of the value proposition is personal and self-managed by the apprentices. The tripartite relationship was shown to be incomplete and inconsistent, particularly regarding mentoring and reflective practice. Practical implications – The pandemic has brought about significant changes in business practice. This study identifies several areas for improving higher degree apprenticeship pedagogy in readiness for the new business landscape, as well as identifying limitations of the tripartite relationship. Originality/value – The study addresses a gap in the literature by exploring the value proposition an EMBA apprenticeship programme. The interrelatedness of cluster concepts has identified value elements missing from previous apprenticeship delivery. Deconstructing the senior leader apprenticeship enables educators to redesign and refine models of engagement for improving the apprenticeship experience. Keywords Higher degree apprenticeships, Mentoring, Reflection/reflective practice, Work-based learning, Vocational education and training, Executive MBA Paper type Research paper


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link


Mentoring, Reflection/reflective practice, Higher degree apprenticeships, Work-based learning, Vocational education and training, Executive MBA


Evans, M. and Cloutier, L.M. (2023) Integrating higher degree education with practice: exploring the value proposition of executive MBA apprenticeships. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, 13 (2), pp. 283-298


Research Institute

Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI)