NYU Stern

Perspectives on Business Education

Business schools have come under attack in the press, and the value of the MBA education has been called into question.

In a much debated Harvard Business Review article, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business' Warren G. Bennis and James O'Toole assert that the current business school model is failing to impart skills, leadership, and ethics to MBA students because faculty are too focused on research at the expense of business practice.

In my opinion, the critics have it exactly backwards. Why? A few highlights:

  • As a public trust, our responsibility as a management education institution is to teach students to think, not to do, and to be forward-looking, not backward focused
  • An emphasis on best practices prevents students from acquiring the analytical and intellectual skills they will need to effectively manage and lead organizations
  • Trending towards vocationalism advocates the very brand of business education the Ford Foundation rejected more than 50 years ago through its $35 million investment that fostered the paradigm shift toward scientific research
  • Many research ideas created in academia, not by the private sector, have been transformational for business