Crossroads

At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Friday, March 20, 2009

MBA--Change is Coming

There was an article in the NY Times about "Retraining the Business Schools". I know that many of you are seeking an MBA degree. Key highlights:

“It is so obvious that something big has failed,” said Ángel Cabrera, dean of the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz. “We can look the other way, but come on. The C.E.O.’s of those companies, those are people we used to brag about. We cannot say, ‘Well, it wasn’t our fault’ when there is such a systemic, widespread failure of leadership.”

Jay O. Light, the dean of Harvard Business School, argues that there have been imbalances both on campuses and in the economy. “We lived through an enormous extended period of financial good times, and people became less focused on risks and risk management and more focused on making money,” he said. “We need to move that focus back toward the center.”

BUSINESS SCHOOLS have looked inward before, and some of the current problems may have stemmed from their last major self-examination. In the late 1950s, reports that the Ford and Carnegie foundations commissioned found mediocre faculty, and curriculums narrowly focused on vocational skills.
One of their recommendations was for business schools to become much more analytical and rigorous in their approach. And, over the years, that happened almost everywhere. Doctoral programs are commonplace. Professors conduct independent research and publish often in scholarly journals. Students learn complex models for analyzing competitive strategy, valuing options and more.

But schools may have gone too far in this direction, according to Warren Bennis, a professor of management at the University of Southern California. The schools suffer from “an overemphasis on the rigor and an underemphasis on relevance,” he said. “Business schools have forgotten that they are a professional school.”

Henry Mintzberg, a professor of management studies at McGill University in Montreal, also argues that because students spend so much time developing quick responses to packaged versions of business problems, they do not learn enough about real-world experiences.

For all of the emphasis on analytical rigor in business schools today, another major recommendation of the foundations’ reports from the 1950s — that business become a true profession, with a code of conduct and an ideology about its role in society — got far less traction, said Rakesh Khurana, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of “From Higher Aims to Hired Hands,” a historical analysis of business education.

“A kind of market fundamentalism took hold in business education,” Professor Khurana said. “The new logic of shareholder primacy absolved management of any responsibility for anything other than financial results.”

A study of cheating among graduate students, published in 2006 in the journal Academy of Management Learning & Education, found that 56 percent of all M.B.A. students cheated regularly — more than in any other discipline. The authors attributed that to “perceived peer behavior” — in other words, students believed everyone else was doing it.

There is a need to broaden from the analytical focus of M.B.A. programs for more emphasis on skills and a sense of purpose and identity,” said David A. Garvin, a professor of business administration and one of the project’s authors

What do you think???????

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