Sunday, May 13, 2007

Business Schools are Changing Curricula

Source: The Economist

Read "Business schools: New graduation skills" in The Economist, May 10th 2007.

The article notes:
Instead of the well-worn method of teaching functional subjects, such as marketing, strategy, accounting and so forth, students who are now completing their first year at Yale are taught with eight courses that each address different themes, such as the customer, the employee, the investor, competitors, business and society, and innovation.....

Today the mood in business schools is a lot happier, and not just in America but also in other countries, which now boast more business schools and many more MBAs than ever before......

But a recent survey by Egon Zehnder, a recruitment firm, found that only one in five of the international corporate executives it polled thought that an MBA prepares people for real-life management. When Yale's Mr Podolny became dean in July 2005 he found “a growing disconnect between how business is taught and how careers are developing”......

Although (Harvard Business School) HBS, which invented the MBA, is continuing its familiar case-study method of teaching, it has introduced a popular new course in “leadership and accountability”. Post-Enron, most business schools have introduced or have beefed up their teaching of ethics, often under the banner of leadership. However, a lively debate now rages about whether this is best done separately or as a part of every subject......

Many schools are trying to increase the practical side by giving a greater role to business, including inviting business people to speak to students.
Comment: There is a lot to be said for changing curriculum -- especially that the novelty energizes faculty and involves students. JAD

I was especially interested in this comment:
As Rakesh Khurana of HBS points out, many schools saw their founding mission to professionalize the management of business, much as medical and law schools had institutionalized their disciplines. According to Mr Khurana, whose book on the history of HBS is about to be published to mark its centenary next year, professions have at least four elements: an accepted body of knowledge; a system for certifying mastery of that knowledge before it can be practiced; a commitment to the public good; and an enforceable code of ethics.
Comment: I think that one might expand that very useful comment from "a body of knowledge" to "a body of skills, knowledge and understanding" but I agree that professionals should have a certified mastery, a commitment to the public good, and a code of ethics. I also believe that we need professionals to administer government agencies, corporations, and civil society organizations. JAD

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