Book Review: Rethinking the MBA

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Datar, Srikant M. et al. Rethinking the MBA : business education at a crossroads. Harvard Business Press, 2010.

When I earned an MBA several decades ago, the degree was considered a passport for many jobs, particularly in consulting and finance. When leading firms wanted to adopt new business insights and analytical skills, they would hire MBAs from top schools. But today, according to a new book from Harvard Business Press, some employers are questioning the value of MBA degrees, and students are bypassing the traditional two-year daytime MBA in increasing numbers in favor of alternatives including executive, one-year, or part-time MBA programs, as well as in-house company programs.

In Rethinking the MBA, authors Datar, Garvin and Cullen analyzed the programs at top MBA granting institutions, and found that overall, the schools are strong in training students to perform analysis. Today’s changing world economy, however, reflects a growing need for more effective leaders and entrepreneurs. Business schools, the authors assert, need to teach students the values, attitudes and beliefs that form managers’ worldviews, and to develop key management skills, such as how to build group consensus, or to negotiate through the power politics of large organizations.

Looking across MBA programs, the authors identify eight needs that are poorly addressed by business schools today. Several of them are at the heart of teaching at the Fuqua School, including gaining a global perspective; developing leadership skills; and thinking critically and clearly. Calling for a re-balancing of the curriculum in favor of guided practice and self understanding, the authors recommend use of cases over lectures, and describe new pedagogies, such as reflective exercises and experiential learning.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library РFuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

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One Response to “Book Review: Rethinking the MBA”

  1. Sameer Says:

    As the author of an MBA book on a related topic, I’d agree with the basic premise of the subject. There is generally a tendency to look at an MBA degree as the panacea to all (business, career and at times personal) problems without critically evaluating the value it provides.

    Hope Datar’s book does well. We need something to counter-balance the marketing hype.

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