Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

Myths, Management Education, and Signalling

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Matthew Stewart makes a great case against management education, in this article that’s been around for years but is for some reason hitting the “most viewed” lists at the Atlantic nowadays.

The strange thing about my utter lack of education in management was that it didn’t seem to matter. As a principal and founding partner of a consulting firm that eventually grew to 600 employees, I interviewed, hired, and worked alongside hundreds of business-school graduates, and the impression I formed of the M.B.A. experience was that it involved taking two years out of your life and going deeply into debt, all for the sake of learning how to keep a straight face while using phrases like “out-of-the-box thinking,” “win-win situation,” and “core competencies.” When it came to picking teammates, I generally held out higher hopes for those individuals who had used their university years to learn about something other than business administration.

I love all of that, and the pages that follow, too, both having been a management consultant and currently teaching a management course.

For all his argument, though, there’s a simple answer: like most of education, it’s as much or more about the signal, not about actually adding human capital. If the signal’s going awry (“seems all these MBAs don’t really know anything about business!”) that could well be because nothing’s changed about the content of MBA courses…just that they are way more (read: too) available than they once were.