Thursday, March 23, 2006

MBA's and the value question

There is a running theme that MBA's destroy value. One recent post referred to them as "MBA Monkeys". There was a recent study that said MBA's underperformed non-MBA's.

Some of the methodologies taught in business school probably stunt creativity and put focus on the wrong things. These methodologies were supposedly tested in the business world and are built into a teaching curriculum, but turns out these methodologies weren't so great after all ... unfortunately they are now codified.

That said, do I think MBA's destroy value? I know some do, but more often than not I think these people would have destroyed value even without their MBA's.


Anshu Sharma said...

Remarkabel contempt for MBAs. Want to back up your comments with some data, anecdotes, anything.

Rob said...

Hi Anshu,

Please let me know what you are reading as contempt, which is a very strong word.

I have no contempt for MBA's (I earned one myself) and certainly didn't inject contempt into my post. I stated that those people blamed for destroying value would have done so regardless of degree, if anything a defense of the MBA.

I think MBA's bring a necessary skillset to the table, but I do believe that MBA programs have some short comings, such as the lack of sales focus in most programs. Probably an overfocus on DCF is another one. If open debate about the merits of the program aren't considered, the programs will never improve.

As for data and anecdotes, if you want to find them, they are out there. Search some of the venture blogs for the anecdotes. Do a google search with "mba underperform", I'm sure you will find the recent study. I think it was a McGill prof who last year wrote a whole book on the topic.


Andrew said...

Agreed - As a fellow-MBA, I would take it one step further and say that way too much emphasis is placed on the fact that someone does (or does not) have an MBA (or whether / where they went to college, etc.) when evaluating them. I think that my MBA education was a valuable piece of what has made me who I am today. However, I also would say there are many other components that have gone into making me who I am as well, including the sum total of all my experiences in my life from the time I was 2 years old until today and my inherent genetic makeup. If I am adding value to something, I think it is fair to give some credit to the MBA, just like it is fair to give some credit to many, many other parts of my life. If I am destroying value, I promise it is not the MBA's fault in any more than an incremental way.

DR said...

A bit late but.....

Just to point out that one of the recent studies (I think it was discussed in Adworld?) mentioned that while companies with a high percentage of MBAs performed less well than companies with lower % of MBAs it also pointed out that those with lower % were more likely to have continuing education and profession development support. Coincidence?

There are a lot of stupid MBAs like there are a lot of stupid lawyers, Dr.s on and on. It just seems like lately there are a lot more MBAs (including me). Higher quantity probably can be connected with lower (maybe I should say, inconsistent) quality.