Thursday, March 26, 2009
The economic crisis has exposed the myth of business-school expertise
Matthew Steward, Slate: The truth is that the relevance of the technical training allegedly offered by the MBA was always overblown... The empirical evidence on the contribution of the MBA to individual career performance seems to bear this out -- mainly because it doesn't exist. In fact, if the relevance of an M.D. to the performance of doctors were even half as unsubstantiated, we'd probably be fantasizing about tossing a few physicians in jail, too.
The other truth helpfully revealed in the throes of the crisis is that ethics and integrity and social responsibility aren't just optional extras for good business management -- unless by 'management,' you mean 'looting.' Managers don't need to be trained; they need to be educated -- in the sense of 'civilized.' Unfortunately, a business degree isn't just irrelevant to that purpose; it's positively detrimental...
The only semblance of a theory behind modern business education is that it purportedly produces 'experts' in shareholder-value maximization who are capable of forming an ideal, self-regulating market... It's now clear that we would all have been much better off if, instead of cloistering these people on fancy campuses with world-class golf courses, we'd have sent them off to do two years of national service...
Since the national-service idea probably isn't going to gain much traction, I suggest that it's time to go long on the humanities. Now that we've tried business with savages, perhaps it's time to give the educated a shot.
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