Adapt to new world of business or risk crisis
THE Master of Business Administration ( MBA) degree is at risk of becoming obsolete unless it adapts to address the new challenges businesses face, researchers warn.
International business school IMD MBA program director Professor Martha Maznevski says the MBA needs to be restructured to match the needs of the new, complex environment in which businesses operate.
‘‘We must embrace the same level of complexity within our schools as we see in the environment and we must learn to open ourselves up as real cases and examples,’’ she says.
‘‘Much has been said about the role of greed in creating our recent financial crisis.
‘‘ But most managers were simply unprepared to anticipate the impact of their decisions in a more complex world.’’
In today’s world, learning useful skills that ‘‘stick’’ and lead to effective performance and leadership is best done on the job, she says.
‘‘To create tacit knowledge, you need experience,’’ she says.
‘‘For executive development, companies are moving actively back to the old notions of apprenticeship and mentorship.’’
Jodie Murphy, who studied her MBA through SA’s Australian Institute of Management branch, says the course helped her in her new position as HR manager at Next Generation Clubs.
‘‘One of the reasons I selected the course was the experience it gives,’’ she says.
‘‘The majority of the lecturers are from the industry.’’
She agrees with the notion that people learn a lot from work experience, rather than just the theory work.
‘‘I’ve been able to apply what I learnt into the workplace,’’ she says.
Prof Maznevski says the research should not be taken at face value, however, because not every manager with experience is effective.
‘‘If it were just about experience, then every manager with experience would be able to lead in complexity. And we know that is not the case,’’ she says. Prof Maznevski says two principles need to be built in to MBAcourses for them to remain relevant – learning the theory and observing the outcomes; and learning cycles that differ in context every time they are repeated.
‘‘Sitting in a classroom is useful only when it prepares learners for action and action should be connected with reflection and further formal knowledge-building,’’ she says.
‘‘A real MBA should in essence mean ‘guided on the job leadership training’.’’
She says tomorrow’s business leaders will need new skills in addition to, and not instead of, traditional skills to lead responsibly through the century.
Former MBA student Jodie Murphy at her new place of work, Next Generation Clubs, War Memorial Drive, North Adelaide.