[photopress:mba.jpg,full,alignright]Fifteen years ago, then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping oversaw the creation of China’s first nine MBA programs. Today 230 programs graduate some 20,000 students a year. MBA may stand for Master’s in Business Administration but sometimes they can just be three letters.
According to a BusinessWeek survey of 173 corporate recruiters at both Chinese and multinational companies with operations on the mainland, quantity and quality do not go hand in hand. Most corporate recruiters give graduates middling to poor marks.
The survey was conducted by recruitment consulting firm Universum Communications. It found that fewer than 20 percent of respondents described Chinese MBA graduates as either good or excellent, and only 34 percent said students’ quality had improved over the past three years.
Nona Kang, of AIG Business Consulting, said, ‘Students lack confidence and have no idea how to express themselves.
Teresa Li, group director of human resources and administration at Tristate Holdings, said, ‘Short on the spirit of risk-taking.’
What it the problem? The BusinessWeek article says that there has been a flood of less-reputable programs.
Wang Fanghua, dean of the Antai College of Economics & Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a top-rated school, said, ‘Many entrepreneurs and companies have set up their own universities, and the quality has gone down.’
Some employers also note that an educational system emphasizing rote memorization and deference to authority doesn’t turn out take-charge managers.
Lydia J. Price, associate dean at the MBA program at China Europe International Business School, a joint venture between the Shanghai government and the European Union, said, ‘In the classroom, we can get students to analyze the heck out of a problem, but to get them to make a decision is very difficult.’
Emre Demokan, senior manager of staffing for Microsoft China spoke highly of B-schools outside China such as Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. He said, ‘The strength of instruction that they get in these programs, plus the experience they get studying overseas, makes these graduates very attractive.’
Some companies are taking a bigger role on campus. At Beijing University’s Guanghua School of Management, any company that hires more than five students is invited to join in interviews from which the next year’s incoming class is chosen. Guanghua has developed particularly strong relations with Lenovo, Samsung, IBM, Lucent, China Mobile and Bank of China.
The comments that followed the article were strong and critical:
MBA programs in China are worthless? No. Perhaps some are. But even they are good for networking. In a country where networking and guanxi are the way of doing business, there’s some value to the programs. However, I’ve met numerous graduates of some of the best programs and they couldn’t tell me anything about Porter, Prahalad, Hamel, Day, Wind, Hayes, Carr, you name it. No knowledge whatsoever. But good for networking.