Let’s create a dynamic MBA!

Dear reader some of you might have read the Financial Times this week and even stumbled over the art

Dear reader

some of you might have read the Financial Times this week and even stumbled over the article with the exclamation header: 

Rip up the existing MBA and start afresh

When I read the headline I immediately thought that this was nothing less than what I have been repeating for years! Of course we have to develop the MBA or we end up with a – excuse my language – master of bullshit and administration instead of what the economy needs: masters of business administration.

I am the last in a row to bury the MBA! But I am so fully convinced that the system needs change. For why should we, the business schools, stand still while all other system relevant parameters evolve. Society and economy do not stall but so does the MBA offered by so many business schools.

I don’t want to reiterate everything that is said by Jeanette Purcell *), the author of the article, but only a few bits and pieces:

What is needed is a review of the MBA and a more innovative approach to its design and delivery. A good start would be to rip up the existing model and start again, focusing on the MBA’s primary objective – to develop effective business people. Rebuilding the degree in this way would produce a very different MBA.The redesign would allow scope for considering how to develop skills as well as knowledge, how to make better use of students’ existing experiences and how to incorporate innovative learning and assessment methods. There would be opportunities to develop a more integrated curriculum and to combine the benefits of e-learning with intensive face-to-face tuition or coaching.

Exactly! We in Horgen, at our business school, we have rebuilt the MBA. And it’s so evident that today, it seems simple to me. We intertwined the Master of Science Program with the MBA. In one sentence:

After finishing your MSc program you can – if you like –  ad major subjects and promote to the broader MBA, or you take your diploma (MSc with four majors) and are ready for new job opportunities: specialization before generalization!

Then there are academic staff to consider, many of whom have an interest in maintaining the status quo and protecting their teaching and research interests. Top faculty staff are scarce and can wield a lot of influence internally. Against this backdrop, deans are understandably cautious about upsetting – and potentially losing – their best people.

Of course! Our business school has no permanent faculty at all. We draw on the best people, the real experts from the respective field, and they are not necessarily from other business schools but also professionals. And as I told Mrs. Della Bradshaw of the Financial Times in an interview (cf. FT, July 27, 2009): ““I will pay back a meaningful fee to the university. I don’t want to be seen as disruptive, as cherry-picking. I don’t want to compete with IMD or Insead: they are doing a great job. But I really believe in this fluidity between schools.“

The MBA is a valuable and respected qualification. But business schools, in responding to demands for yet more content, have lost sight of the MBA’s primary purpose. Now is the time for a fundamental review. An opportunity exists to create a dynamic MBA; one that not only continues to be relevant and important but also has real educational value.

Absolutely! Day after day we are working hard to make our MBA more dynamic, to bring the relevant topics of everyday business to the classroom and let students and faculty discuss it.

I therefore concur with all the major aspects in this article.

Financial Times on Business School such as the Lorange Institute

Peter Lorange

Jeanette Purcell is a leadership development specialist and managing director
of Jeanette Purcell Associates. She was chief executive of the Association of
MBAs from 2003-2010.