Thursday, April 26, 2007

Improving MBA Education

In recent years, several prominent management scholars have penned stinging criticisms of the state of MBA education, yet far too little change has taken place in the halls of academia. Warren Bennis and James O'Toole wrote one of the best articles on this subject in 2005 in Harvard Business Review ("How Business Schools Lost Their Way"). Bennis and O'Toole criticized the fact that the academy has tilted heavily toward those who publish articles based on statistical modeling, analyses of large datasets, and laboratory experiments. While this research can be quite valuable at times, it often does not capture the complex reality of managerial work within real organizations. Far too little clinical research takes place in business schools today. Too often, scholars think of their audience as other scholars, rather than focusing on two other critical audiences for their work - students and practicing managers. I find these criticisms quite valid, and therefore, I was quite pleased to read Michael Porter's recent article in Case Research Journal. In that piece, Porter affirms the value of case research and in-depth clinical, longitudinal studies. Now, if only business schools could begin to reward the type of work that Mike Porter rightly credits with producing important insights that are relevant to the practice of management.