Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft chairman without a single earned university degree, is by his success raising new doubts about the worth of the business world’s favorite academic title: the MBA (Master of Business Administration).
The MBA, a 20th-century product, always has borne the mark of lowly commerce and greed on the tree-lined campuses ruled by purer disciplines such as philosophy and literature.
But even with the recession apparently cutting into the hiring of business school graduates, about 79,000 people are expected to receive MBAs in 1993. This is nearly 16 times the number of business graduates in 1960, a testimony to the wide spread assumption that the MBA is vital for young men and women who want to run companies some day.
“If you are going into the corporate world it is still a disadvantage not to have one,” said Donald Morrison, professor of marketing and management science. “But in the last five years or so, when someone says, ‘Should I attempt to get an MBA,’ the answer a lot more is: It depends." long prom dresses
The success of Bill Gates and other non-MBAs, such as the late Sam Walton of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., has helped inspire self-conscious debates on business school campuses over the worth of a business degree and whether management skills can be taught.
The Harvard Business Review printed a lively, fictional exchange of letters to dramatize complaints about business degree holders. short prom dresses
The article called MBA hires “extremely disappointing” and said “MBAs want to move up too fast, they don’t understand politics and people, and they aren’t able to function as part of a team until their third year. But by then, they’re out looking for other jobs.”
The problem, most participants in the debate acknowledge, is that the MBA has acquired an aura of future riches and power far beyond its actual importance and usefulness.
Enrollment in business schools exploded in the 1970s and 1980s and created the assumption that no one who pursued a business career could do without one. The growth was fueled by a backlash against the anti-business values of the 1960s and by the women’s movement.
Business people who have hired or worked with MBAs say those with the degrees of ten know how to analyze systems but are not so skillful at motivating people. “They don’t get a lot of grounding in the people side of the business”, said James Shaffer, vice-president and principal of the Towers Perrin management consulting firm.