The Financial Times had a story about the recent rankings of MBA programs. Let’s look at what these rankings mean from a strategy, productivity and national pride perspective. While these MBA programs don’t produce all of the leaders in industry, they do produce people who play a substantial role in influencing the corporate world—whether at a CEO level, board level, executive level or management level. If you look at Fortune 500 CEOs, a large percentage completed some kind of business training. Many of them are MBA graduates from major business schools, like Standford (Mary T. Barra, General Motors (GM)), Harvard (Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase and Harry Lawrence ‘Larry’ Culp Jr., General Electric (GE)) or Booth (Satya Nadella, Microsoft).
Think about this: Asia is growing very rapidly—not just the far East around Vietnam, Thailand and China, but large parts of Asia and Africa are growing rapidly. If you project that growth over the next 30 years, these are going to be important economies in the world. When China appeared on the scene in the ‘90s, people wrote them off. Thirty years later, they are an important part of the international business community.
Here’s my question: If MBA programs are producing the leaders of the corporate world in the West, and if our growth is slower than Asian economies, how good are our MBA programs? Do business schools need to rethink the way we teach business? MBA programs are producing significant individuals in business, and Western economies have been posting single-digit growth rates—or in some cases, negative growth rates—while Asian economies produce double-digit growth rates. I don’t want to say what’s right or wrong, but that is the reality. If, collectively, all these business schools are leading to this outcome then, collectively, how good are our MBA programs?
This is an excerpt from Monday Morning 8 a.m. newsletter, issue #4.