‘Conventional MBA programmes train the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences,’ wrote Henry Mintzberg in the classic tome, Managers not MBAs.

No one has done more to remove the bogus mystique surrounding self-styled elite business school graduates than Henry Mintzberg. His long-established, strongly held views are based on observation and critical intelligence. You can learn a lot of useful stuff at business school, of course – but you don’t learn how to be a manager, which is a practical skill best studied in the context of real-life situations.

This is the thrust of his 2005 publication Managers not MBAs, which drew together the lessons of his academic research with his experience of teaching and working with managers over the course of several decades.

‘Considered as education for management, conventional MBA programmes train the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences,’ Mintzberg writes. But apart from that…

The biggest problem perhaps has to do with attitude and the ethos of aspiring Masters of the Universe. Good managers are committed to their teams. But elite MBA students may see themselves as a class apart.

‘MBA programmes may be inadvertently encouraging an attitude of independence that is fundamentally antithetical to the responsible practice of management,’ Mintzberg says. We may not have realised it at the time, but this book, written just before the financial crisis hit, exposed the sort of arrogant thinking that helped bring it about.

From: Management Today | June 7, 2017 | Written by: Stefen Stern

One thought on “Are Business Schools Really the Best Place to Learn Management?

  1. Perhaps the issue is not so much whether b-schools are a good place to learn but that the curriculum is very outdated, especially at the graduate level. Most curriculum in the MBA is a variation on the theme of the two Foundation Reports from the Carnegie and Ford Foundations in the late 1950s. Those reports and a few later derivative works established the major domains of personnel management, accounting/finance, marketing, and policy. The names of the domains have shifted and changed over the years but the core content has remained similar.

    Mintzberg’s (@Mintzberg141) own program at McGill, International Masters Program for Managers (@IMPMProgram), illustrates some of the changes that we need to make. IMPM is a program that focuses on heavily on managing relationships and dialogues in organizations. There are other programs that take a similar approach such as the Masters in Imagineering (#imagineering) at NHTV (#nhtv) in Breda, NL, or the grandfather of such programs KaosPilots (@kaospilots) in Aarhus, Denmark.

    In all of these programs technical learning is moved back stage while the inter-personal and human practices of relationships, dialogues, and reflection move to center stage.


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