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Managers Not MBAs: A Hard Look at the Soft Practice of Managing and Management Development Hardcover – January 1, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two decades ago, Mintzberg, a professor at McGill University who was then teaching MBAs at MIT, discovered a profound "disconnect between the practice of management... and what went on in classrooms." Since that time, he has dedicated himself to the problems of management and management education, both of which he believes are "deeply troubled," and the latter of which has become the wrong that he, with help from colleagues around the world, must right. Using words like "arrogance," "mindless" and "exploitation," Mintzberg outlines just what is wrong with MBAs (the people and the degrees) and why the degree he's developed is rooted in the real world and, as such, is far more relevant and valuable to students, companies and the business world at large. Strong economies are based on good management, not on good business schools, Mintzberg believes, and because the top companies employ the top MBAs and the top MBAs (not to mention the mediocre and bottom-level degree-holders) are, or so he says, the products of an out-of-touch and unrealistic graduate program, then the effects of this miseducation can be felt far beyond the classroom walls. Mintzberg's argument is clearly researched and set forth in a progressively logical and even convincing way. Managers and manager wannabes will be intrigued and can certainly learn a thing or two as long as they, as Mintzberg himself urges in his teachings, consider the source of the education.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

"Conventional MBA programs train the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences," states this academic and author, who here examines and proposes drastic change in our traditional form of management education. He believes MBA programs are schools of business that pretend to develop managers, and he addresses such issues as what can be done to develop managers in a serious educational process, offering a critique of MBA programs and an analysis of the practice of management itself. Mintzberg's recommendations include program changes, as well as his observations on faculty tenure, prima donnas, and entrenched thinking. He believes MBA programs have failed to develop better managers who should be improving their organizations and thereby creating a better society. This book offers an important perspective for the global MBA community, which serves its students, business, and society in general. Although some may disagree with the author's views, at the very least his insight should^B foster discussion and lead to action, as appropriate. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1 edition (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576752755
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576752753
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,375,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Bill Godfrey on February 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mintzberg has a formidable reputation as an educator and writer on management. Unlike Drucker who is a pillar of the managerial establishment, Mintzberg is an iconoclast, turning a very sceptical pen on many of the most cherished tenets of management belief.

He chooses his targets carefully. His attacks are devastating in their accuracy and detail, but he always spends more time constructing the new than destroying the old. His solutions are notable for their common sense and the fact that they are grounded in experience of the real world, rather than in fashionable theory. Because his targets are ones that are dear to the establishment heart (what could be closer than the value of strategic planning and of the MBA as a qualification for high business office?) his books tend to be blockbusters, bringing together a formidable amount of evidence for his case from many sources. However, the central ideas are relatively simple and are expressed in colloquial and engaging terms, with more than a touch of humour.

His last major target was strategic planning, in his 1994 The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning. This time his target is the practice of management itself and the, in his view, malign influence of management education in the form of the dominant MBA degree on managerial practice, business organizations and wider society.

Management education and the role of the MBA have been in Mintzberg's sights for a long time. For example, his 1989 Mintzberg on Management contains a major section, which could be seen as a precursor to the present book, while his career has been deeply concerned with the education of managers in the widest sense, rather than simply with teaching the MBA.
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Format: Hardcover
Mintzberg's reputation in the OD and Strategy world is stellar. His views are often debated but never rejected out-of-hand. He is always salient and grounded. This offering is no exception.

The first half of the book is a well-reasoned critique of the traditional MBA - and the schools that have offered them. His analysis of the dire consequences that has been wrought by the MBA may be a bit overblown but you cannot deny his logic and his reasoning and must, at least, take a careful look at the possible damages that an MBA (without requisite management skills) can do.

The second half of the book is where I was sadly disappointed. It is written as a means to offer a possible solution to the mess mad by traditional MBA's but it reads more like a 200 page advertisement for the IMPM program that he and other colleagues have been offering for the last few years. It is unfortunate that he appears to be offering a "prescription" (a concept he blasts in this very book) instead of offering his views for dialogue. This second half would have best been presented in academic journals for debate rather than in book form.
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Format: Hardcover
In short, Henry Mintzberg is critisizing the MBA education, which has a lot of truth inside. I am an entrepreneur strating up several small businesses and have been doing it for 17 years, and recently got my MBA education. This book is interesting and amusing. But here is my 2c: I honestly think MBA teaches a lot of great materials and is very useful in a lot of situation. We learn about the fundamentals of business in general way and not being "specialized" (that is what Phd for). After learning the basic fundamentals you start to see the business world in a more elevated way, most of my classmates think that they see the whole business with a much fesher perspective. Now, there is also a dangerous side of being an MBA, that we started to think we can solve all problems and get the best solution without deep understanding of the deeper side of the business. And a lot of people becoming more arogant ;-), demanding more salary, etc etc. MBA is also a great place for "switching points", moving from a specialized area to go to management. Tacit knowledge can not be taught in any type of education without real life experience, but i think MBA is the best next option to groom a "general manager" type of leader.

That said, i still enjoy deeply the book, henry has taught MBA for 15 years, so he know what he talked about. He wrote the great book "Rise and fall of Strategic Planning". He is always thought provoking and relentless in persuit of what he think is best for management. If you want to get an MBA education, read this book to balance your opinions. If you are an MBA, this one is a good book to reflect the right way you should approach doing business. I like this book very much and recommend anyone connected with MBA (hiring an MBA, wanting to get an MBA, etc) read this book and will immensly benefit from this.
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Format: Hardcover
The wet-behind-the-ears MBA who comes in and ruins the company is a stock figure in popular culture, but Mintzberg is the first thinker to put his finger on exactly why so many MBAs are so clueless and destructive. He makes a very convincing case that you simply can't teach management in a classroom. You can teach general business skills, but management is something that has too many intangibles--it's an art more than a science--and is very industry-specific: managing a software company is very different than managing a restaurant chain. But MBAs are taught that they can just apply their little case studies to any situation, and consequently they come in and make boneheaded decision after boneheaded decision, not knowing how the business they're "managing" actually works.
Does that mean management education is simply impossible? No. Mintzberg argues that once someone has displayed an aptitude for management you can definitely develop that ability through management education programs that draw on and build on managers' real-life experiences. He describes how he and some colleagues developed just such a program.
The book is surprisingly entertaining, considering the potentially dry subject matter. The is something Mintzberg undoubtedly feels strongly about. He writes with considerable passion, surprising wit, and his usual exceptional clarity. Highly recommended to anyone who cares about contemporary management.
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