Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Value of MBA Education

The Value of MBA Education

The Economist has an extensive article that examines the value of formal business education. The articles quotes Henry Mintzberg, a professor at Canada's McGill University, criticizing conventional MBA programs because they "ignore the extent to which management is a craft, requiring zest and intuition rather than merely an ability to analyze data and invent strategies."

This may, very well, be the case. However, most people will become much more effective at applying their "zest and intuition" after learning the fundamental principles of business, and by experimenting in low-risk environments that an MBA programs provide. We cannot count on MBA schools to create awesome general managers, but we can appreciate such programs for allowing professionals of all walks of life to become more skilled at making business-related decisions.

It is possible to make business decisions without attending a business school, just like it is possible to write software without having a computer science degree. Those who value formal education will treat an MBA program as a way of learning about the mechanics of the world--the program will prepare them for a career grounded in solid understanding of business fundamentals. Those indisposed to the academic environment will probably find the enormous price tag of an MBA experience not worth the value that a master's degree brings.


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