2/6/14 An article from latest Schumpeter, the Economist column on business and economics, discusses the state of business schools today. It is not pleasant. The writer says that like doctors who smoke, and dentists with rotten teeth, the business school has professors who constantly flout their own rules:
…it is a rare profession where failure to obey its own rules is practically a condition of entry. Business schools exist to teach the value of management. [link]
In other words, as the title of the article succinctly states, “Those who can’t, teach.” I cannot completely disagree with this line. Not everyone who teaches in a business school has practical experience, but I can also argue that that is not a prerequisite to teaching business. In fact, sometimes, practical experience gets in the way of good teaching. You very easily can miss the forest for the trees.
Also, many times, the field is relevant. In a technical field such as finance, there are many things that can best be taught by people who are familiar with the tools and their evolution — which can only be learned through both research and usage. Some of my best teachers taught me not only how to use the tool, but where it originated from as well, which clearly displays its weaknesses. All models have their weaknesses, and it is good to know what they are. This is important in finance, but also in other fields. In other words, research is important to both practice and teaching. And you don’t necessarily have to be a practitioner to do that well, though an awareness is of course important.
The writer says in that same article:
The most fashionable phrase today is “disruptive innovation”: professors solemnly warn people that entire industries face powerful new forces and that comfortable incumbents are at the mercy of swift-footed challengers. But when it comes to their own affairs, business schools flout their own rules and ignore their own warnings.
In the interests of full disclosure, I can say that I have never used that phrase while teaching. However, he has a point. Many times, business schools will ignore their own warnings. It is easier to give advice than to take it, and it is even harder to implement it.
Though I am not so sure that the business school is being disrupted. Yes of course, I am aware of the tectonic technological changes (or “disruptive innovations”) going on around us: massively open online courses (MOOCs) for one, and online teaching for another. But in my experience, the average student still gains the most from a face to face setting rather than online. Just ask our Hybrid EMBA students (Hybrid meaning half-online, half face to face).
Click here to view the rest of the article via The Business School is not Dead | MacroFinance.