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BW Businessworld

The MBA School Of The Future

As per the case study method, while the average Harvard MBA does 500 cases in the two-year course, Harvard has 7,500 case studies and adds 350 cases per year

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma


I would start by quoting Peter Thiel, Co-founder, PayPal who says, “Never hire an MBA, they will ruin your company.” Why did he say this?

If I go to the genesis, the early version of the MBA degree started in France way back in the 1880s. Harvard MBA started in 1908. Today, the degree is at the crossroads. Cut to circa 2018, there are now 12,000 B-schools in the world and India has 4,000 of them.

Over the last few decades, full-time MBA applications are growing only in Europe and Asia-Pac B-schools. Incidentally, 70 per cent of US B-schools report a drop in applications. The reasons for this are manifold: economy, nationalism, job visas, cost of programme, online, company training budgets.

The No. 1 schools as per Financial Times 2018 study are: Stanford for overall, INSEAD for study and travel, Wharton for research, Harvard for peer approval, CEIBS for highest salary increases, and IMD for global networking

As per the case study method, while the average Harvard MBA does 500 cases in the two-year course, Harvard has 7,500 case studies and adds 350 cases per year. Harvard makes $221 million selling cases.

So the moot point is: How can this method evolve today?
There was something called ‘The MBA Oath — Idea of Harvard batch of 2009’ which came into being with three purposes — to make a difference in the lives of individual students; to challenge classmates to a higher professional standard; and to generate public conversation to improve and professionalise management.

This was started in response to the financial crisis of 2008 and was conceived because a number of Harvard alumni had done not so correct things/ done wrong things as a result of greed. This was started by the 2009 batch supported by Nitin Nohria, the Harvard dean. The MBA Oath made the following pledges:

* I will act with utmost integrity
* I will safeguard the interests of my stakeholders
* I will manage my enterprise in good faith
* I will uphold laws governing my conduct and those of my enterprise
* I will take responsibility for my actions and represent my enterprise honestly and accurately
* I will develop myself and develop others
* I will drive sustainable prosperity and development worldwide.

So the challenges that a B-school needs to teach are: sustainability, equality, ethics and governance, value of money, diversity, teamwork, win-win partnerships, regulatory challenges, handling failure and doing good for society.

What employers in an organisation want today are: ability to work in a team, solve complex problems, look at wide range of issues, and ability to prioritise time.

An MBA degree offers width; what employers are looking for is depth.

And finally, what the future business school would like and what needs to be done. We have to dwell on multiple areas like rethink class fees as the dominant business model, rethink type of faculty, research, weigh more practical elements into the course, infuse more technology in every subject and build deeper partnerships with Industry.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

D. Shivakumar

The author is Group Executive President – Corporate Strategy & Business Development, Aditya Birla Group

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