BUSINESS Education is A kind of CASH Cow
Critics of modern business education have vehement complaints. For instance, the chief executives of the Big Five are card-carrying M.B.A.’S. In recent years, top business schools have shipped more than 40 percent of graduates in to the world of finance. But, with the economy in disarray since 2008, and so many financial firms in the free falls, many educators and analysts are wondering if it is the way business students are taught may have contributed to the most serious economic crisis of the century.
Business school today have become, in many way, scientific and too detached from real world problems. Business grads are given a limited and distorted view of their role – they graduate with a sharp focus on maximizing shareholder value and only a limited understanding of ethical and social consideration essential to leadership. Many of these shortcomings have left high-ranking executives inadequately prepared to make decisions that might have helped mitigate the financial turmoil.
As a matter of fact, employers and headhunters also question the value of a management degree. What’s the point of a graduate degree if at the end of the day business schools are only minting morally detached, singleminded fortune seekers.
Back in 1950s, a study commissioned by the Ford and Carnegie Foundations noted that mediocre faculty and curriculum which narrowly focused on vocational skills has greatly added to the imbalances on campuses and in the economy.
In some of the top business schools, changes are under way in courses and curriculums. Business graduates are taught to be long-term economic stewards rather than agents who maximize the shareholder wealth.
Yet, employers are questioning the value of an M.B.A degree. A research project by two Harvard professors published in 2008 found that employers valued business graduates’ ability to think through intricate business problems. And so, a growing number of business schools are now finding valuable lessons from the economic crisis. As a matter of fact, big schools like Harvard Business School and The Wharton Business School are now considering to make their courses more global and put more emphasis on leadership skills. More so, Harvard is even assembling cases based on the events of the last decade, including issues involving accounting practices, for instance, the Jpmorgan Chase’s acquisition of Bear Stearns.
In the year 2006, Yale School of Management introduced cases based on the financial crisis on their curriculum to offer interdisciplinary perspectives on complex problems.
The Aspen Institute, meanwhile, has developed a curriculum in conjunction with the Yale School of Management that is aimed
at teaching students how to act upon their values at work. About 55 business schools, including Stanford, Northwestern and MIT are using a part of it in pilot programs. Moving along, the Aspen Institute also produces an annual report ranking business school on how well they integrate social and environmental issues into curriculums.
At the Stern School of Business of New York University, professors recently wrote papers analyzing the economic crisis and offering policy recommendations that have been now combined in a book.
Management is a profession much like law or medicine. Accountants, doctors and lawyers are not immune to wrongdoing or poor judgement, and they have long been taking certification exams and promising to act ethically.
It requires a code of conduct as well as continuing education. Some of the best known business schools worldwide now promote standards for sustainable business practices, with a renewed focus on the social value of management.
Today, business schools face intense criticisms from students, employers, and even the media for failing to instill norms of ethical behavior. Deans of some of America’s most prestigious business schools agree that the main culprit is the lessthan-relevant MBA curriculum.
In the recent decades,
leading B schools have adopted a model of science that uses statistical multiple regressions, laboratory psychology and abstract economic analysis. Business is not an academic discipline like geology or literature. It’s a profession, similar to medicine and the law, and business schools are professional schools. Like other professions, business calls upon the work of multiple academic disciplines. For business, they include psychology, philosophy, sociology, mathematics and economics.
Business education has evolution to a very generous extent in the last hundred years. Historically, business schools have emphasized on educating practitioners and imparting knowledge through research. Remember, when MIT’S Sloan School of Management was known as MIT School of Industrial Management and its production class was taught by the manager of a nearby General Motors assembly plant.
In the booming postwar economy, nearly all of the nation’s elite Mba-granting institutions began to treat their schools almost as seriously as law schools. However, in the process, their focus switched, and now most B schools use the scientific approach.
By allowing the scientific research model to thrive, business schools are now driving out all other models. Deans say they reward practitioner-oriented research, and yet their schools rewards scientific research
designed to please academics. By promoting individuals who publish in discipline-based journals, B schools are setting an example that it is okay to be a professor of management and never have set foot inside a real business. Today’s professors know more about academic publishing than about the problems of the workplace. For instance, business graduates are made to study case studies, which makes it an integral part of the educational process.
The most elite B schools are the most intellectually exciting places in academia. Yet, the loss extends far beyond the traditional classrooms. Employers are noticing that freshly minted MBA, even from the most prestigious B schools, lack skills their organization needs. Why can’t B schools operate ventures that function like the equivalent of a law-school teaching law firm? Perhaps, the reason is that corporations hire MBA with narrow specialities. They support B school, donate money in millions and not demand enough that the institutions purport to support their needs. This is ironic.
Aristotle taught that leadership consisted in the ability to identify and serve the common good. This requires an education in moral reasoning, which includes logic, philosophy, literature, theology, and history. B school’s lack of offerings in humanities is a serious drawbacks. Why have B schools abandoned other forms of knowledge?