Oral Communication Skills: Are the Priorities of the Workplace and AACSB-Accredited Business Programs Aligned?

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Our purpose in this study was to assess the alignment of oral communication (OC) skills between the workplace and business schools. Drawing on theory related to communication interactivity, we differentiate three types of OC: presenting, listening, and conversing. In reviewing prior empirical research, we found that listening was the most important of these OC types in the workplace, followed by conversing and presenting, respectively. We review and analyze learning goals of U.S. undergraduate business programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. We found that 76% of the business programs had an oral presentation learning goal, 22%, a conversing goal, and 11%, a listening goal. Our research reveals a misalignment between the OC skills needed in the workplace compared to those emphasized in business curricula. We discuss potential reasons for the misalignment and offer suggestions for closing the gap.