Manchester Business School was set up in 1965. It was the outcome of the Franks Report on Management Education (1963) which recommended that two business schools be created in the UK to teach management education, following the example of the USA. Manchester and London were chosen as the first UGC-funded business schools.
Manchester Business School was part of the University of Manchester, but it enjoyed significant autonomy over its internal organization. The School's status and powers were defined in the University's ordinances. These stipulated that it was subject to the University Council, and was integrated into the University's system of academic government (Senate and Faculty). From 1968, the School's admissions, curricula and examinations were overseen by a Faculty of Business Administration, headed by a Dean. The School had its own Director and was advised by the MBS Council, made up of business leaders, trades unionists and academics. The MBS did not have initially any formal connection to the long-established department of management sciences at UMIST.
The MBS differed greatly from other University departments in its academic organisation, student recruitment and methods of teaching. There were no separate departments, and a very strong inter-disciplinary ethos was encouraged. Teaching was organised by directors of studies (graduate courses, doctoral programmes and management courses), and the School did not accept undergraduates (in contrast to UMIST's department of management sciences). Most of its early students were already employed in business (and in a few cases, the public sector), and they studied for diplomas and masters degrees; the most significant degree was the master of business administration (MBA). In the late 1960s, Ph.Ds were introduced (a special Doctor of Business Administration [DBA] was added in the 1980s). The School also ran shorter courses for business executives, such as the 12-week Management Course for middle managers, and the 3-week Executive Course for senior executives. The School promoted an innovative form of pedagogy known as the "Manchester Method"; this stressed a heuristic "learning by doing" approach, and encouraged students to use their 'real world' business experiences in their studies. Although the school's initial focus was on teaching, it developed specialist research centres such as the Banking Centre (1973) and the New Enterprise Centre (1981).
The Manchester Business School initially occupied rented offices in Hilton House in the city centre, but in 1971 moved to the Precinct Centre on campus.
The organisation of the School has changed significantly over the years. Initially, the Director and the Directors of Studies played a significant role, assisted by a Professors' Committee. In 1977, the School introduced a system of Centres, which focused on a Postgraduate Centre, to which all Faculty staff belonged, and from which other Centres - International Banking, Executive Development, New Enterprise and the Language Centre - could purchase teaching time. This system was overseen by a new School Management Committee. In 1990, the School undertook a further reorganisation, when it created five subject areas groups (SAGs): Business Economics, Accounting and Finance, Information and Operations, Human Resource Management, and Marketing and Strategy. This brought greater disciplinary identity to the School, and was also intended to boost research work. Operational centres (Postgraduate Centre and Executive Development Centre) bought time from SAG staff. An Academic Management Board oversaw these groups. The Professors Committee continued to operate until the 1990s, providing academic advice; a Departmental Board oversaw more routine matters relating to operations and services. As in other University faculties, in the late 1990s a Policy, Planning and Resources Committee was created to oversee strategy and resource allocation within the School.
During the 1990s, MBS began to work more closely with the UMIST School of Management, and a Federal School of Business and Management was initiated in 1995. Despite posting disappointing results in the first Research Assessment Exercise (2 -1988), the School's performance improved greatly during the 1900s (it scored 5 in 2001). Student numbers continued to expand, with an increasing number of research-based degrees and more international students. Many students did not necessarily have an extended business career before studying for a qualification.
In 2004, with the creation of The University of Manchester, the MBS became a constituent part of a new Manchester Business School, along with the UMIST School of Management and the former School of Accounting and Finance, and Policy in Research in Science and Technology (PREST) unit of the University of Manchester. This made it the largest business school in the UK. In 2015, on the fiftieth anniversary of MBS, it was renamed the Alliance Manchester Business School.
Directors of the MBS 1965-2007:
- W Grigor McClelland 1965-1977
- Tom Lupton 1977-1984
- Robert Telfer 1984-1988
- Tom Cannon 1989-1993
- John Arnold 1994-2007