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Why MBA bashing is unfair

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Why MBA bashing is unfair [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2009, 10:41
Why MBA bashing is unfair

Can we really blame MBAs for our current problems? The caricature of the MBA graduate is certainly unappealing. Fast-tracked and hot-housed, this aspiring master of the universe is supremely confident. He or she will have rapidly acquired enough knowledge of finance, marketing and the rest to launch a brilliant corporate career or, better still, glide straight into an elite strategy firm or investment bank. This steady flow of cocky graduates helped sustain market excess, the MBA-haters maintain. Their arrogance led to the collapse that now afflicts us all.

A more cogent critique has been offered by Henry Mintzberg, professor of management studies at McGill university in Montreal. “For years the business schools have been promoting an excessively analytic, detached style of management that has been dragging organisations down,” Prof Mintzberg wrote recently.


http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1416afe8-1246 ... ck_check=1
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Re: Why MBA bashing is unfair [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2009, 12:30
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While I do believe there is some truth to the generalizations portrayed by the media with respect to MBA graduates, there is one element in the problem that is missing. Namely PEOPLE. People are inately emotional beings that have to operate within a system that is fraught with conflicts. Decisions are not made in a vacuum on the basis of "whats best for the <insert client / customer / etc >." Individuals have to manage political conflicts in the workplace as well as their own careers and outside lives. What is broken is the system of perverse incentives, on top of an overall misunderstanding of risk (...on top of many other things).

MBA grads happen to occupy key decisions making positions in a lot of organizations. But you can't infer causality. Leadership, skills, and a bit of luck tilt the odds in favor of the ascent of an MBA candidate. The way people think in general (MBA or non-MBA) resulted in this crisis. There is a fair share of blame that can be spread around.

This is sort of ironic that I am defending the MBA position since I hold a lot of beliefs contrary to main-stream "MBA think" taugth in b-school. Sort of debating with myself right now whether I need to get an MBA. I am currently a Level III candidate in the CFA program - went to an average undergrad school and graduated top of my class. I already know what I want to do - I just need an opportunity which is my primary motivation for attending.

I am also unemployed so I am having an internal struggle. I may not even get into a top 20 program. So yeah if you could give me some advice on top of that - that would be great! ha thanks :-)
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Re: Why MBA bashing is unfair [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2009, 15:01
MBARunner wrote:
While I do believe there is some truth to the generalizations portrayed by the media with respect to MBA graduates, there is one element in the problem that is missing. Namely PEOPLE. People are inately emotional beings that have to operate within a system that is fraught with conflicts. Decisions are not made in a vacuum on the basis of "whats best for the <insert client / customer / etc >." Individuals have to manage political conflicts in the workplace as well as their own careers and outside lives. What is broken is the system of perverse incentives, on top of an overall misunderstanding of risk (...on top of many other things).

MBA grads happen to occupy key decisions making positions in a lot of organizations. But you can't infer causality. Leadership, skills, and a bit of luck tilt the odds in favor of the ascent of an MBA candidate. The way people think in general (MBA or non-MBA) resulted in this crisis. There is a fair share of blame that can be spread around.

This is sort of ironic that I am defending the MBA position since I hold a lot of beliefs contrary to main-stream "MBA think" taugth in b-school. Sort of debating with myself right now whether I need to get an MBA. I am currently a Level III candidate in the CFA program - went to an average undergrad school and graduated top of my class. I already know what I want to do - I just need an opportunity which is my primary motivation for attending.

I am also unemployed so I am having an internal struggle. I may not even get into a top 20 program. So yeah if you could give me some advice on top of that - that would be great! ha thanks :-)



So you need an MBA because you can not make the transition into the field of interest?

I also agree that, it is the individuals that made the poor decisions, and it just happens they have MBA's.
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Re: Why MBA bashing is unfair [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2009, 16:00
I would also comment that MBAs often get singled out because they are often holding positions where they can do a lot of damage.

You read about teachers, scientists, doctors and lawyers doing some pretty unethical things, but often the damage is quite limited. Sure a doctor could kill a bunch of his patients or the lawyer could help put innocent people in jail but the number of people affected is quite small.

When you've got a bunch of MBAs who run the largest investment banks in the world cutting corners, almost everyone gets burned.

Kinda similar to politicians, don't you think? :wink:

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Re: Why MBA bashing is unfair [#permalink] New post 18 Mar 2009, 06:15
Along the same line, people are making broad generalizations based on a relatively small sample. How many hundreds of thousands of MBAs out there are great leaders and managers? The media focuses more on the sensational frauds that MBAs carry out because it's a more entertaining story to read about how Enron happened than to hear about an MBA who's gone to work and steadily grew shareholder value over their career. For every Jeff Skilling, there's an A.G. Lafley (both HBS alums).

So sure, business schools should constantly look to keep their curriculum relevant to the real-world, but just like no amount of laws will ever completely eradicate crime, no business school curriculum will ever completely insure that an MBA won't turn out to be a poor business leader or outright crook.
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Re: Why MBA bashing is unfair [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2009, 08:59
89nk wrote:

So you need an MBA because you can not make the transition into the field of interest?

I also agree that, it is the individuals that made the poor decisions, and it just happens they have MBA's.


Your assessment is not entirely correct. I want to work within a specific sub-set of the investment management industry. I have 4 years experience in Finance, 3 years of which qualify as work experience for the CFA Program on the investing side at a large hedge fund. I have not been able to move into the particular niche that I am interested in.
Re: Why MBA bashing is unfair   [#permalink] 27 Mar 2009, 08:59
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