A successful business school must serve two communities: the research community on one hand; and the business community on the other. However, despite the spectacular growth of business education over the last four or five decades, there has been growing criticism of the relevance of much business school activity: The academic-practitioner divide has emerged and largely refuses to close. To bridge the gap b-schools must serve both communities concurrently. Executive education is identified as being a critical strategy in the repertoire of b-school deans through which to do so. The aim of this paper is to discuss the construct of executive education, and to challenge some of the dominant logics that executive education is simply education for executives. Executive education is reported as being distinctive from most content focused education – the tangible material that most universities teach.

The successful design and delivery of a suite of non-credit executive education courses, with a focus on corporate and institutional governance, is presented. Their underpinning pedagogy, based on developing a critically reflective practitioner, is discussed. Executive education courses are found to be distinctive on the basis that responsibility for learning, and the direction of the journey being taken, rests largely with the participants themselves. The adverse reaction to a six month long not-for-credit short course, offered in-house annually for four years is then briefly described. Observations are shared as to the source of this reaction. The means of avoiding similar adversity towards effective executive education in the future is then identified.