Posted by: Louis Lavelle on March 13, 2009
What with the economy in a tailspin, a lot’s been written lately about what role, if any, business schools might have played in the economic apocalypse we’re living through these days.
The consensus seems to be “a big one.”
Philip Delves Broughton, a journalist who spent two years at Harvard’s MBA program and lived to tell about it in his book “Ahead of the Curve,” seems to think so—he considers MBAs “guillotine fodder” for their role in the mess.
Riffing on that story, Peter Scowen suggests that the usual derivations of MBA among the degree’s critics (Mediocre But Arrogant, Mighty Big Attitude) don’t go far enough. His suggestion? Masters of the Business Apocolypse, which has a nice “end of days” sound to it.
Even some business school insiders are now doing a little mea culpa of sorts. James Danko, the Villanova Business School dean, says “business educators must acknowledge some accountability for the current economic conditions.”
All of which got me wondering: What do BusinessWeek readers think about the role business schools played in our current economic crisis?
My own feeling is that all the people cited above are on to something--that business schools in general have focused too much on rewards, and not enough on risk, and have done a mediocre job of drawing a line in the sand when it comes to matters of ethics and values. But I haven't seen anything that really connects the dots in a meaningful way. In fact when I took a look at the educational backgrounds of individuals at the center of this mess six months ago (at what was, sadly, only the begining of the end) I concluded that non-MBAs were as likely as MBAs to lead their companies into disaster.
On the flip side, a recent survey by NetImpact and the Aspen Institute found that most current MBA students do not believe they're getting the kind of business education that will allow them to avoid the next financial disaster, assuming anyone survives this one.
So what do you think? Let us know.