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Is an M.B.A. Just a Piece of Paper?

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Is an M.B.A. Just a Piece of Paper? [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2009, 12:40
Afternon Reading: In a Financial Crisis, Is an M.B.A. Just a Piece of Paper?

The financial crisis has revealed many ideas to be wanting.

Industry self regulation. Not regulating the CDS market.

Matthew Stewart at Big Money has another addition to the list –the MBA. Few pieces of paper have lost as much value at the hands of the financial crisis as a master’s of business administration degree. And like housing values, the value of an M.B.A. might not rebound anytime soon.

http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2009/03/26/afternon-reading-in-a-financial-crisis-is-an-mba-just-a-piece-of-paper/
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Re: Is an M.B.A. Just a Piece of Paper? [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2009, 13:45
Quote:
“Isn’t it just a little suspicious, after all, that the sector that showed the greatest appetite for MBAs was the most grotesquely mismanaged? In fact, the economic crisis has exposed long-standing flaws not just in the modern approach to business education but in the very idea of business education.”


This quote makes me :roll:

First off his reasoning sucks. To say "the sector that showed the greatest appetite for MBAs was the most grotesquely mismanaged" makes about as much sense as saying "Isn’t it just a little suspicious, after all, that NYC is where the financial markets were so grotesquely mismanaged?". Correlation does not mean causation.

Secondly, I don't think you can teach ethics, at least not to adults. Ethics derive from values and 18-months of sitting in classes isn't going to change the values you've formed since your childhood. You can teach about the impact of making ethical decisions, but no b-school is going to turn a profit-at-all-costs banker into a altruistic humanitarian.

One of the key factors in how ethical a company's employees are is the example set by leadership. If it filters down from high up (not necessarily from the CEO) that screwing people over is a part of the job, you'll breed a culture where people will feel no shame in making unethical decisions.

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Re: Is an M.B.A. Just a Piece of Paper? [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2009, 04:04
refurb wrote:
Secondly, I don't think you can teach ethics, at least not to adults. Ethics derive from values and 18-months of sitting in classes isn't going to change the values you've formed since your childhood. You can teach about the impact of making ethical decisions, but no b-school is going to turn a profit-at-all-costs banker into a altruistic humanitarian.


I'll take that one step further and say you can't teach leadership in a classroom either, or even in a 2 year MBA program. Sure, you can learn leadership theory in a classroom, and MBA programs give you opportunities to practice leadership, but nobody should expect that when you receive your fancy MBA diploma that you are an expert leader. I'm pretty sure if you ask any successful CEO they will tell you that even after a 40+ year career they're still learning about how to be a better leader.

The MBA was always a piece of paper. Like any academic degree, it only demonstrates that you've mastered a certain level of theoretical knowledge. That theoretical knowledge will be helpful in a management career, but just as important is what you learn and how you develop on the job. As refurb said, if you work in an environment where all that matters is profit and screw all else to get it, well then that's what you're going to learn and what you will likely become. Likewise, if you work in an environment that is more focused on integrity and responsibility, that's what you will learn.

I think the recent wave of criticism probably goes a bit too far though. There are certainly MBAs that have contributed to the mess we're in and are bad leaders. But people have made some pretty broad generalizations about MBAs being arrogant, greedy, unethical, bad leaders based on a pretty small sample size. The top 5 schools alone have over 250,000 alumni in total. So while I agree that MBA programs should constantly look for how they can improve and better educate their students, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
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Re: Is an M.B.A. Just a Piece of Paper? [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2009, 06:35
The MBA is a valuable tool that helps people restart their careers. However, the MBA is only as strong as the value employees place on it. Right now a lot of employers are not hiring and certaintly not hiring 6 figure salary employees so the value is low. But to say that once the economy rebounds that value won't go up again is cynical.
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Re: Is an M.B.A. Just a Piece of Paper? [#permalink] New post 09 Apr 2009, 13:45
terp26 wrote:
The MBA is a valuable tool that helps people restart their careers. However, the MBA is only as strong as the value employees place on it. Right now a lot of employers are not hiring and certaintly not hiring 6 figure salary employees so the value is low. But to say that once the economy rebounds that value won't go up again is cynical.

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Re: Is an M.B.A. Just a Piece of Paper? [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2009, 16:46
The part that really peeved me of Matthew Stewart's article was that it since the call to national service will be ignored, we should go long on humanities?? How can sciences/engineering NOT be the the most logical educational pursuit to contribute to society??

Sounds like he is pretty smug about having a Phd in Philosophy.
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Re: Is an M.B.A. Just a Piece of Paper? [#permalink] New post 24 Apr 2009, 11:23
I also agree with the above posters. Taking a small sample size to pass judgment on all is a poor assessment. I am tired of the media skews on news.
Re: Is an M.B.A. Just a Piece of Paper?   [#permalink] 24 Apr 2009, 11:23
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