Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Reality of the MBA

The Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is often a prerequisite in order to reach the top strata of corporations, particularly in the Anglo-Saxon world. However, MBA studies cannot be said to make much demand on the mind. The MBA is merely a clever substitute for experience, so that motivated young men and women can reach the upper layers of private corporations without first having to slowly gather experience for decades at the lower ones.

Paradoxically, the MBA curriculum is both intensive and relaxed; it is heavy in workload, but intellectually light. It prepares well for the working life in that it proposes little actual substance to students; most of what is taught is common sense. The MBA hones those inherent attitudes and attributes that are needed for success in the business world. Thus, the quality and scope of the learning content usually does not have the highest priority in the selection of an MBA programme. Rather, the most important criteria are often the location of the school and its renommée, the fame of its teachers, job perspectives at graduation, the average salary of past alumni, as well as the social life and the old boys’ network that it offers. These are the parameters that set the often hefty price of the MBA.

A large part of the MBA programme focuses on “soft” skills such as management, marketing, cultural awareness and team work, as well as on gaining experience rapidly and artificially through the now famous corporate case studies. The more in-depth courses in economics and finance are often optional; for many students the teaching in these subjects is limited to basic accounting and cost control. Extracurricular activities such as networking, team building, business forums, parties, and meetings with prospective employers is expected to take up much time. Such activities enable the student to develop those innate socialisation skills that he should already possess and that are so fundamental for a successful corporate career.

The MBA bakes individual minds in a single mould called the "corporate manager". It is a process that starts with the general education system but that is sometimes undone by some university educations. The MBA churns out high-level executers who all understand and use the same tools, processes, and modes of communication. The MBA is thus both a reflection of the modern business environment as well as one of its generators.

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