Why Business Schools Need to Go Back to School

We wrote an article that was just published in New England Journal of Higher Education. It looks at business schools’ aspiration to develop graduates that can pursue social, environmental and economic opportunity. 

Our finding is that very few schools are actually achieving this aspiration. Here are three reasons why:

  • First, this problem is rooted in how we are teaching future leaders to think. As McGill University management professor Henry Mintzberg points out, management education is too analytic and overly reliant on quantitative modeling. Future leaders learn how to plan for and control the future based on past data.
  • Second, social and economic opportunities are often created in unknowable situations where past approaches are not relevant. To pursue these opportunities, management students need to know how to use creativity, experimentation and action, counter Srikant M. Datar, David A. Garvin and Patrick Cullen in Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at the Crossroads.
  • Third, beyond teaching how to think, business schools have also been narrowly focused on what they teach students to think about. Too often management education has overemphasized shareholder value creation and underemphasized ethics and social and environmental value creation, according to a New York Times article by Kelley Holland asking, “Is It Time to Retrain B-Schools?” Leaders need to know how to connect to their values and passions if they are to create social and economic opportunities.

In sum: many programs would benefit from a careful study on where and how they can more effectively address these fundamental challenges. You can read our full article by clicking here.