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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why MBA Programs Don't Produce Leaders 11-25

Why MBA Programs Don't Produce Leaders

Drew Hansen

According to theNational Center for Education Statistics(NCES), over 150,000 students graduate with their MBA in the United States every year. That’s a whopping 25% of all Master’s recipients (compared to Computer & Information Science at only 3%).
Two years ago I contemplated joining their ranks. I remember sitting at a kitchen table editing drafts of myHarvard Business School essays. Despite the impending deadline, I couldn’t find the motivation to complete my application. In my head, I reviewed reasons why my Bain colleagues encouraged me to go to business school. “The network,” they said. “A two-year vacation,” I heard from some. But I wanted to learn, grow, and develop as a leader. Could business school offer that?
Business Schools Have An Identity Crisis
Business schools have always juggled two missions: educating practitioners and creating knowledge through research. Fifty years ago, as explained in the 2005 HBR article How Business Schools Lost Their Way, business schools shifted their focus from the former to the latter. Management became a science rather than a profession.
This shift had profound implications. Business schools rewarded professors for publishing their research in academic journals, and their curriculum began to reflect the narrow focus of the faculty. Business school professors became increasingly disconnected from practicing managers and leaders. By the mid 2000s, it became clear that business schools had swung too far in one direction.
A Change In Image, Not Substance
Critics called for a re-emphasis on organizational leadership as a distinct profession and prescribed a number of curriculum changes to restore balance between academic rigor and everyday usefulness.
In response, business schools re-positioned themselves in the educational marketplace. For years they had touted the MBA degree as a sure path to career advancement and higher salaries, but they started to change their tune. Now, the mission statements of the nation’s top business schools claim to convert today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders. Chicago Booth is pretty representative of the rest:
Since 1898, we have produced ideas and leaders that shape the world of business. Our rigorous, discipline-based approach to business education transforms our students into confident, effective, respected business leaders prepared to face the toughest challenges
This new rhetoric was just that: rhetoric. A 2008 study of the top 50 U.S. business schools found that the “ideal curriculum remains far more of a normative construct than a positive reality.” In 2009, Joel Podolny, dean and VP of Apple University,promoted the same solutions that had been advanced earlier in the decade. MBA programs were failing to change.
When I sat there, questioning my business school plans, I was unaware of these criticisms. Yet, the inner conflict I felt was real, and I abandoned my application. I’ve since learned that business school, despite its good intentions, makes little difference in molding leadership potential. Its very nature is at odds with its purported mission.

1 comment:

  1. NICE POST!!! Thanks for sharing about business schools in USA. I am impressed with how interesting you have been able to present this content. Thanks for sharing..
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