A Damning Exhibit Concerning MBAs and Business Schools

Nail in the coffin. Perhaps not, but I'd have to agree it's a bad case. The New York Times portrays a tough canvas of MBAs and their responsibilty in the economic crises in the article entitled, "Is It Time to Retrain Business Schools?". The article starts off:

JOHN Thain has one. So do Richard Fuld, Stanley O’Neal and Vikram Pandit. For that matter, so does John Paulson, the hedge fund kingpin.

Yes, all five have fat bank accounts, even now, and all have made their share of headlines. But these current and former giants of finance also are all card-carrying M.B.A.’s.

 Couple of interesting points which I had not seen before and probably should be thought out further:

  • The notion of professionalization and stewardship
  • The emphasis on shareholder value as an underpinning to finance, entrepreneurship, etc. instruction

But I also have some off-the-cuff thoughts (* indicates based on the Organizational Behavior 4th Edition text [2008] by Dr. Steven McShane and Dr. Mary Ann Von Glinow):

  • Which investors or Boards reward something other than shareholder value? Are these groups in a minority?
  • Although socially responsible companies have been brought to light over the past decade or so, do they get widely-known, superior returns? Do youth and business people value them? Do kids (or adults) worship Bill Gates as part of Microsoft or as part of the Gates Foundation more? Where is the balance?
  • In most surveys, when asked about the most important characteristic employees look for in a leader, most say honesty and ethics (*). What does that say about our ability to hire qualified managers and executives then?
  • 95% of the Fortune 500 companies in the US have codes of ethics (*). Enron also had a well-developed code (*).
  • Is it that business school students are neither trained in risk management nor tragedy of the commons systems structures? Or is it that personal performance plans and reward structures do not align? Other?

If the problems stem from business-, company-, or world-cultures, then how will we get educated and make amends?

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