[photopress:MBA_students_1.jpg,full,alignright]The Observer, which is published in Britain by The Guardian, notes the MBA is 100 years old this month and asked whether it is a happy birthday.
Start with numbers.The first intake for Harvard’s original Master of Business Administration was 33 students. This year the figure worldwide will be 500,000 and 30,000 of them will be in China.
MBAs give an university prestige and also make a lot of money. Fees leading up to $100,000 are not unknown and it is likely that figure will be topped next year.
Countries are more and more creating their own business graduates. It makes sense that a Chinese MBA should be awarded to someone who is very concious how business is done in China. And the same would be true of India and Vietnam an so on.
So for Britiain there is a falling off. After a steep 10-year rise, student recruits from China are falling as the country increasingly grows its own graduates.
Piling Ossa on Pelion, or Pelion on Ossa (both classical allusions are correct) the European Union in 2010 has the Bologna Declaration, which will try to get all the courses within the union lining up to a single standard.
This will not be easy and not everyone will be happy with an insistence of the use of English for some of the new standards. But it will happen and then most universities in Europe will be offering hundreds of new business courses, many of them in English, some of them MBAs.
Which brings up the problem of the supply of teachers. There simply are not enough of them because normally they can make more money working elsewhere.
[photopress:mba3.jpg,full,alignleft]In Britain the Advanced Institute of Management Research (AIM) projects 4,000 UK business-school professors will retire in the next decade and the replacement rate will be much lower. And the same concerns will apply, in a different way in China.
But is the MBA the best way to teach people to run a business?
Henry Mintzberg of McGill University in Montreal is not alone when he argues that ‘conventional MBA programs train the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences’, turning out ‘trivial strategists’ and desiccated number-crunchers rather than people able to exercise craft and judgment.
A group including the late Sumantra Ghoshal at LBS, Stanford’s Jeffrey Pfeffer and Harvard’s Rakesh Khurana have charged that some of the concepts taught on MBA courses led directly to the corporate excesses that have discredited the past decade or so.
In a recent discussion paper, the American Institute of Management recommended that business schools embrace a range of different approaches to confront the more difficult times ahead.
One would think this is particularly true in China. Some serious analysis, criticism and experimentation appears to be called for.
Source: The Guardian