Saturday, June 13, 2009

Purpose of an MBA - Simple Politeness, Common Sense, Problem Solving

There has been a lot of discussion in the media in recent months regarding the MBA qualification. An interesting piece in The Economist last week discussed the point in terms of Management not being a profession like Medicine and Law:

MBA students lead a campaign to turn management into a formal profession...

...400 students graduating from Harvard Business School... At an unofficial ceremony the day before they received their MBAs, the students promised they would, among other things, “serve the greater good”, “act with the utmost integrity” and guard against “decisions and behaviour that advance my own narrow ambitions, but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.”

...When the business school was founded in 1908, the goal was to create something along the lines of Harvard’s medical and law schools. But the mission was soon abandoned, not least because there was no agreement about how managers should behave...
For me the MBA at Melbourne Business School was an three-pronged exercise in trying to teach some common-sense, team-work skills and decision-making to a group that seemed to be lacking in all three.

Reading an article in today's Australian it was noted that John Malkovich "once described himself as a midwesterner", not meaning small-town family values but as he reflected:
"To me midwesterner means (long pause) some degree of politeness, simple politeness. Some degree of common sense, an education towards problem solving, rather than problem dramatising or inventing."
Maybe the MBA, as taught in leading business schools, could be the "Midwestern Business Approach" contrasting with the east-coast of the USA (New York), where politeness and common sense seem to be lacking, and the west-coast (LA), where problem dramatising or inventing seems to prevail.

I like the idea. Management education could not go too wrong by focussing on simple politeness, common sense and problem solving.