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Until corporate America's fascination with soft skills wanes, MBA programs should expect more cold shoulders from applicants and recruiters alike ("MBA applicants are MIA," News: Analysis & Commentary, Apr. 18). As their entire evaluation methodology (GMAT scores, graded coursework, etc.) is predicated on an objective analysis of students' knowledge of the course material, it is impossible for today's business schools to consistently gauge one's proficiency in the soft skills currently demanded by recruiters.
An analysis of one's management style, innovativeness, or creativity is simply too subjective to warrant widespread inclusion in the grading process. Consequently, until companies can know with some certainty what soft talents a graduate has, they will be unwilling to pay the MBA premium previously enjoyed during the heyday of Six Sigma and other strictly analytical management processes. Instead, companies will continue to invest in internal management-development programs.
Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Your excellent article is right on target. It does, however, miss a critical aspect of the problem: Few, if any, of our young faculty have any meaningful business experience. At the same time, we require that MBA applicants have at least several years of good business experience prior to admission. The corollary is that a large number of young faculty teaching MBA courses could not get admitted into the MBA programs in which they are teaching. Would you take a surgery course from a professor who lacks substantive operating room experience?
Professor, Stern School of Business
New York University
Your article encapsulates many of the ideas that motivated my decision (as well as the decisions made by several of my American classmates) to opt instead for a specialized degree -- a master's in real estate management (a one-year program) from Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
I had worked for an investment bank, a consulting firm, and a startup and was considering top-tier business schools. However, upon further investigation of the costs and benefits of studying in the U.S. vs. Europe, I chose the latter.
What I found lacking in your MBA article was commentary about why tuition costs have been rising at rates well above inflation and what, if anything, top universities are doing to address this issue.
A 55% increase over six years translates to a compounded annual hike of 7.6%. That is way too high. The business world (the customers for the universities' "products") that hires MBA graduates would not tolerate cost increases of this magnitude. Universities need to control these costs.
R. Clay Jackson
Despite having been ranked by BusinessWeek as one of the Top 10 where recruiters find "the best and the brightest" grads with global scope, Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management, was absent in your editorial "B-Schools for the 21st century" (Editorials, Apr. 18) on the curriculum for the 21st century. Thunderbird, aside from teaching the traditional analytical courses -- accounting, finance, and marketing -- requires its students to enroll in cross-cultural communications courses.
Indeed, the entire Thunderbird curriculum is a course in cross-cultural communications. Students choose an area of global expertise as well as working in cross-functional and multinational teams in virtually every course.
Glendale, Ariz.Editor's Note: The writer is a student at Thunderbird. The headline "The Church's challenges" (International Business, Apr. 18) could not be more appropriate. The next Pope will face the difficult task of reaffirming the Church's positions on divorce, birth control, homosexuality, celibacy, and the ordination of women. The Church's finances and its shortage of priests will certainly be addressed by the new pontiff, but these problems will not be solved in the short run.
Last but not least, the new Pope must not relent in continuing the work of his predecessor in condemning pedophilia. Acting vigorously against pedophile priests will help restore the prestige of the Catholic Church as an institution that is concerned with the salvation of souls -- and also with human dignity.
Jos? Thomaz Gama da Silva
Belo Horizonte, Brazil
As a liturgical music director and retired marketer, I applaud your excellent article pinpointing key challenges for the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church. John Paul II's success in expanding awareness of the Catholic Church is evident from the increase in membership worldwide during his tenure. Even the critique of John Paul II's focus on the details of liturgy performance only further illustrates his capabilities as a brand manager par excellence.
As a member of the faithful, it is my prayer that the next leader be able to "remove the barriers in the channels of distribution to satisfy customer needs" before this newly created customer base switches to competing or generic Christian brands.
Granite Bay, Calif. "Real estate's turf war heats up" (News Analysis & Commentary, Apr. 18) barely touched the surface of the issues surrounding "discount," "limited service," and other Internet real estate sales-company terms. All quote low fees, but elsewhere on their sites they point out that 1) you may need an attorney and/or title company to complete your sale -- at considerable additional cost, 2) your home may or may not appear in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), greatly limiting exposure to potential buyers, and 3) you may need to pay an additional commission of 2% to 3% to the real estate agent who sells your home. So you are paying for a professional to represent the buyer, but is anyone representing you? When you start adding up the extra fees, the limited exposure, and the lack of representation, are their services really a bargain?
I am a Realtor. When I list a home for sale by one of my clients, I am bound by the Realtor Code of Ethics. I'm there when they price their home, when it comes time to negotiate over an offer, and when unforeseen issues come up throughout their transaction. I'm available to them at night and on weekends, whether they have a serious issue or just want to talk. Your article suggests that traditional brokers rely on government regulators for protection against the discounters. I believe that it is the services provided by myself and other Realtors that differentiate us from our online competitors.