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European MBA vs. United States MBA Compendium [#permalink]
17 Sep 2005, 19:08
European MBA vs. United States MBA Compendium
There have been a number of questions about European MBA programs vs. American MBA programs. I thought it would be useful to provide some background to help compare and contrast European and American programs.
It should be stated at the outset that there is considerable diversity among US and European MBA programs. Indeed, in some ways the top clusters of the Europe and the US probably share more in common with one another than they do with local programs from the same continent.
For the purposes of this discussion, MBA programs in the United Kingdom and Ireland are included under the title European MBA programs.
European MBA programs and American MBA programs have differing historical origins. The US MBA programs began developing in earnest in the 1910s with the graduate business program at Harvard Business School. The European MBA programs did not develop until the late 1950s at INSEAD (INSEAD would not use the title "MBA" for another 15 or so years, however). It is important to keep in mind that the US was the hegemon of the economic world in the post war era and thus became the benchmark for other nations. Since the US was the dominant force in the development of the MBA, other nations tended to rely heavily on academics trained in the US to help them develop their MBA programs (consider the influence of academics educated in the US on INSEAD or US academics on the development of business schools in Spain). It took some time to develop more "European" content for these programs such as developing local cases.
This head start of the major American programs meant that the US programs were the undisputed "best in the world" for several decades after the creation of INSEAD (or at least the best in the anglophone world). However, as the nations of Europe recovered from World War II and became global competitors for American businesses, the obvious preeminence of the US MBA model eroded. In addition, the cultural heterogeneity and multilingualism of Europe gave European MBA programs an added sense of relevance and legitimacy with the rise of global MNCs and "globalization."
It should be stated that the nations of Europe enjoyed strong programs in business and administration long before the advent of the MBA in Europe. The German Handelshochschule model , Scandinavian HandelshÃ¶gskolan model, and French grande ecole de commerce model all existed long before the arrival of the US-style MBA in Europe. It is dismaying that many American commentators still fail to appreciate the long tradition of training in business of so many European nations. The fact that these programs were conducted in languages other than English probably played an important role limiting their visibility to many American observers.
Last edited by Hjort on 19 Sep 2005, 02:17, edited 1 time in total.
One of the major differences between US and European programs is the duration of the program. Most European programs last only one year while most American programs last two years. Of course, there are exceptions in both systems (e.g. IESE, Manchester; University of Pittsburgh).