Sunday, 18 November 2007

M.B.A. under attack

Interesting article from NYT:

The M.B.A. Under Attack
DAN MITCHELL November 17, 2007

THERE is a rising reaction against management theory, according to The Economist. A new book by the management expert Gary Hamel, “The Future of Management,” notes that several well-known executives of hot companies — among them, Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google and John P. Mackey of Whole Foods Market — did not go to business school.

More to the point, another new book, by the Harvard Business School professor Rakesh Khurana, “charts how management science declined from a serious intellectual endeavour to a slapdash set of potted theories,” as The Economist characterizes it (

That book, “From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management” is “academic” and “dense,” according to Business Week, but it still manages to be scathing. Business schools not only fail to produce the best managers but also repudiate professionalism by emphasizing individual achievement over company loyalty, according to Mr. Khurana (

Now come the contrarians. A study (get it here) by Nick Bloom, an assistant economics professor at Stanford University, and John Van Reenen, an economics professor at the London School of Economics, concludes that companies using the most widely accepted management theories taught by business schools outperform their peers in productivity, sales growth and return on capital. According to the authors, “these measures of better management practice are strongly associated with superior firm performance.”

“That this is at all controversial,” concludes The Economist, “shows how far management theory has fallen from its peak,” when it was expected to become a science.

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