Monday, March 30, 2009

Is There a Future for Business Schools?

Is there a future for Business Schools?
03/24/09 - by Tim Swanson
This short post supplied the links below.

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The End of Business Schools?
09/01/02 - AOM Online by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Christina T. Fong

This study has a scholarly approach. They find that it took about one month to convert professionals from other fields into business consultants.

[edited] Available data suggests that business schools are not very effective. Career success does not correlate with having an MBA degree or grades earned in courses. There is little evidence that business school research influences management practice. These results question the relevance of management scholarship.

Consulting firms in the late 1990s found it difficult to compete with high-technology start-ups for talent. They had always hired some people without MBA degrees, but they increased the numbers, to include lawyers, doctors, and philosophers.

Consulting firms had to provide training so these individuals could give advice to companies using business knowledge and language. Many started or expanded 3-week programs to teach new hires the basics. Apparently, it took only 3-4 weeks for people to cover what business schools take 2 years to teach.

Internal studies found that the non-MBAs did no worse and sometimes better than their business school counterparts.

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MBA Schools Have Nothing to Offer in Our New World
03/25/09 - Bloomberg by Matthew Lynn

A general complaint against business schools. What could they have been teaching?

[edited] The MBA factories took a pseudo-scientific approach to finance. They promoted a mechanistic management style, and they taught a managerial elite more interested in rewards than producing lasting wealth for their societies.

They taught that running a company could be mastered by anyone through a set series of formulas from a textbook. The entire private-equity industry, mergers, and acquisitions are founded on that principle.

Academia largely invented the intellectual tools that led us into the financial meltdown. Complex models for pricing risk created the market for the options and derivatives contracts that have caused so much trouble in the past year.

The business schools took mysterious and unknowable "risk" and tried to make it as easy to count as peas in a pod. They encouraged a generation to go into investment banking armed with the belief that they had mastered risk.

In reality, management is a skill that is acquired through experience, judgment, and flair. Billions are about to be wasted relearning a simple fact that should never have been forgotten.

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Did Joseph Wharton Cause The US Financial Meltdown?
10/21/08 - by Tim Hartnett

A disapproving review of what Americans will support, as long as an MBA in finance is proposing it. If you can't understand what they are saying, they must be smarter than you.

[edited] Americans are raised to believe there can be no such thing as a glut in graduate degrees. We don't think that any form of schooling can do harm.

What are the talents of the guys who rise to the top of established business empires? A good lot of them seem to specialize in finding ways to produce revenue, but not much of anything else.

Well into the 20th century, journeymanship in a business was a natural route to an executive position in big-time corporate America. People with the hands-on experience in mechanics, sales, manufacturing, and agriculture were residing at the top of many fields of trade. As late as the 1950s, entrepreneurs with widely divergent perspectives arising from a vast array of influences and experiences held sway in American industry. Today, those back roads are almost unknown.

The latest line is that government bailouts are good investments. This comes from politicians, ex-politicians, TV personalities, and people who run the cocktail circuit from the west side of the District to the east side of Manhattan.

"Remember Chrysler, we all made out big on that one." is the common refrain. Skeptics might have difficulty recalling it as quite so clear cut. Sure, number three of the one-time "Big Three" is still with us, but who-got-what out of that sweetheart deal remains hazy.

Money passing back and forth between the amorphous blob in DC and listed corporations is as difficult to follow as a shell game. Finding our end of the "profits" is like trying to unravel derivatives. So we take their word that all is soundly managed. Between cigar puffs, the MBAs reassure us that "in five or ten years everyone will be sitting pretty." The public is expected to sit blinking like a corporate mistress in a James Thurber cartoon.

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