MBA Return on Investment 'Has Gone the Way of Greek Public D

by Vault Education Editors | February 04, 2011

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"If you have a decent job in your mid- to late- twenties, unless you have the backing of a corporate sponsor, leaving it to get an MBA is a higher risk than ever. If you are getting good business experience already, the best strategy is to keep on getting it, thereby making yourself ever more useful rather than groping for the evanescent brass rings of business school."

That's the advice of Philip Delves Broughton, author of What They Teach You at Harvard Business School, and a Harvard MBA. Writing in The Economist, Broughton slams business schools for arguing that a recession is the ideal time for self-investment. What they leave out is the fact that they need your tuition money to counter falling endowments and slashed budgets, he says. "There are business academics right now panting for your cheque. They need it to pad their sinecures and fund their threadbare research."

Sinecure and threadbare research? That's pretty harsh. Seems Broughton is looking to scrap. He continues on with the polemics: "There is surely no more oxymoronic profession than the tenured business-school professor, and yet these job squatting apostles of the free market are rife and desperate. Potential students should take note: if professional risk were as marvelous as they say, why do these role models so assiduously avoid it?"

Broughton goes on to cite how there's an absence of MBAs in the top ranks of top hedge funds, leading tech companies like Apple, and hardly an MBA among successful entrepreneurs. He criticizes Harvard's new dean Nitin Nohria, an expert on ethics, for evading a question on the Goldman Sachs congressional hearings. He says school's curriculums aren't set up to prepare students for the "hurly-burly of economic change" in BRIC countries. And he also says the financial rewards of MBAs are skewed heavily towards finance and consulting grads from top schools.   

Even though Broughton does hint that the audience for his smearing is late-twenty year olds with good jobs, I think it's worth a reminder that the majority of people in MBA programs aren't aspiring titans of industry; they have more "modest" plans. Many are simply looking for a career change, or broader management opportunities currently unavailable to them. Some are looking for further specialization or a network of contacts that eludes them. I wonder if he would simply tell these people to toss out their applications as well.

[The Economist]

Filed Under: Education

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