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Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads Hardcover – April 13, 2010
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David Garvin in The Atlantic, July 14, 2010
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The book is well organized. Chapter 1 explains the research methodology the authors used in gathering data and how this was all formulated for explanation in the remainder of the book. Data was collected pre and post economic crisis so it is relevant in today's environment. The next part of the book is about the unmet needs they identified in their research presented in a knowing-being-doing framework: gaining a global perspective; developing leadership skills; honing integration skills; recognizing organizational realities and implementing effectively; acting creatively and innovatively; thinking clearly and communicating clearly; understanding the roles, responsibilities, and purpose of business; and understanding the limits of models and markets. The next part of the book looks at six individual institutions that uniquely/powerfully address the unmet needs. The book then concludes with the authors key learnings and proposals based on their interpretations of the research they gathered.
I value what I have learned from this book. The articulation of the unmet needs was clear and could have included more detail, but then it would make for a very long book. The details provided in the six individual institution cases gave me a sense of the complexity, successes and challenges these institutions face in providing their offering to the world.
As the previous reviewer stated this book is well researched and well written. A definite must for those doing their part to help educate current and future change agents.
After a helpful overview, the authors summarize their findings such as the declines in 2 year full time curricula in favor of condensed, part-time and/or executive programs. A brief historical overview explains the delicate positioning of business schools in universities and the pressures for more scholarly and academic rigor over the years. Detailing the criticisms of B-schools, they explain ways schools are often over analytical, do not address important business needs, and underemphasize important topics and skills.
The authors go on to highlight eight broad needs including the importance of developing global perspective, leadership skills, cross-functional integration, comprehension of organizational realities, creativity and innovative thinking, oral and written communication, understanding of the role and purpose of business as well as the limits of markets and models. They review a wide range of programmatic and curricular responses in leading schools. The authors indicate that schools are generally more responsive to the first 3 needs, but are still wrestling with how to respond in other areas. For instance, they discuss while experiential learning is considered the best way to teach organizational realities, few schools have mastered this approach.
Recognizing the fall-out from economic recession and scandals, the authors acknowledge that business executives are regarded with suspicion. They also confirm that the majority of graduates still prefer jobs in financial services and consulting where the opportunities are not as readily available as they once where. However, the authors specify that major needs for B-school talent are in other areas such as in entrepreneurial, functional management, corporate, non-profit or NGO arenas. They acknowledge the challenges in attracting those who want to "change the world" and shifting courses to more of a "doing and being" orientation (from "knowing and having?").
The authors' stance is that the kinds of B-school innovations and the initiatives covered in the book will address the concerns schools face. It remains to be seen if the authors' optimism will be fulfilled and /or whether further answers are needed - the "rethinking" may have to be "re-thought." This book and others such are Christensen's "The Innovative University" are useful in looking at these questions.
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I hardly come across a book that was written with such details and clarity.Read more