At the beginning of September, the latest edition of the textbook Business Economics was published by Attila Chikán, an academic, economist and teacher who has been in the field for almost 50 years. How has the textbook changed since the first edition? How will the teaching of Business Economics become more relevant?
Author: Beatrix Tepfenhart, cover photo: Attila Chikán
Minister of Economy of Hungary in 1998-1999, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Richter Gedeon, Vice-Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Mol Nyrt., Founding Director of the Rajk College, Head of the Institute of Business Economics. The list is about one man, Professor Attila Chikán, who never left the university for a minute after graduating from Corvinus:
I’ve held a lot of social positions, but I’ve always been at university, that hasn’t changed.
His career has been accompanied by the textbook Business Economics since 1992, the sixth edition of which was published this year. Attila Chikán said that a new edition usually takes two years of hard work. “It doesn’t mean I’m working on it day and night for two years, but it’s a big part of my time, and you have to believe that it makes sense”. In 30 years, more than twenty-five thousand students have used this book to build their economic knowledge, which is outstanding even by international standards.
With so many students learning from the book, you feel that it has meaning and significance,” the professor says.
The book has changed a lot since the first edition. Back then, the message was ‘the market economy is better than the planned economy’, says the professor, but the new, expanded edition also highlights current problems, challenges and concepts such as Industry 4.0, technological development and the climate crisis.
The new textbook differs in two important respects. “On the one hand, there is a general change in attitude, and on the other hand, there are specific new topics that were not so relevant a few years ago,” the author explains.
The general change of perspective was necessary because digitalisation, globalisation and related ideologies, sustainability and thus corporate social responsibility are nowadays more profound. The book also gives a lot of weight to practical examples, for example 3D printing is not a core subject, but it is still mentioned as it is becoming more and more common in business.
The question rightly arises as to how far the pandemic that overshadows our daily lives is reflected in the book and the approach. Attila Chikán, however, did not want the pandemic to permeate his textbook, because like all of us, he hopes that it will not last forever. “I wrote the book practically in the middle of Covid, so it could have been about any topic and how the pandemic would affect it.”
In his experience, the pandemic has reinforced some (economic) trends that were emerging in our lives. The most striking example of this is the home office, which existed in some areas before, but only really came into the public consciousness last year, when it was the only option available.
The textbook is closely intertwined with the Business Economics textbook, which is taught in all Corvinus business schools and aims to provide a solid basis for continuing business studies and for learning more specific subjects.
Obviously, not everything can be taught in a single subject, but we wanted it to be an attitude-shaping, conceptual foundation subject, says Attila Chikán.
At Corvinus, more than 1,000 students are studying the subject this year at basic and advanced level, and there is also a study competition. According to Attila Chikán, the environment at Corvinus University – whether it is the Institute of Business Economics or the ongoing transformation – is very supportive and inspiring for someone to write a textbook and thus actively shape university life, business thinking and business degree programme.
For the textbook, which already exists in downloadable form, an e-book version is planned, which would make learning more enjoyable and interactive. Attila Chikán said, “both students and teachers have the need to use IT to teach in a new way, to implement new methods in education.”
He added, however, that taking Western examples as a starting point, the creation of such a book could require the work of 20-30 people, especially IT specialists, who can bring to life the curriculum that is already exhausted in every sense by traditional textbooks.
In many ways, the 2020 Business Economics textbook is “the end of a kind of trajectory”, according to the professor. However, the pedagogical approach does not stop here, Attila Chikán, as the president and former founder of the Rajk College, continues to hold courses every year and sometimes appears as a guest lecturer in theoretical classes of economic subjects.
My corporate and public relations are very strong, but I have always been and will always be first and foremost an educator, says Attila Chikán about his future plans.