For reasons I don’t fully understand, I’ve noticed a number of articles that question the value of an MBA degree. The most recent and egregious example was published in, of all places, the Wall Street Journal: “A Smart Investor Would Skip the MBA,” by Dale Stephens. Stephens is the author of Hacking Your Education and the founder of Uncollege.org, a site devoted to those who would pursue their own education without benefit of a classroom.
Well, a smart reader would skip reading his rant about the worthlessness of an MBA degree and get at the facts that Stephens’s piece lacks. I should have taken Sam Goldwyn’s advice when one of his young assistant directors asked for his review of a friend’s script. His response: “It’s so bad you shouldn’t even ignore it.”
Stephens claims that good business schools “deliver two main values: educational content and a network.” Easy, right? For the content, you go online. “You’ll get to watch the same lectures but for free.” Building a network, he feels, is more valuable than the content but more difficult to achieve. Networks cannot be bought. They have to do with relationships and are “founded on trust.”
That’s only one of the reasons I could not simply “ignore” Stephen’s column. His remedy is stunningly simple-minded and contradictory. How many teams or interpersonal relationships can be built by just going online? Stephens makes it all sound easy: “Invest in buying coffee, drinks and dinner for people you want to get to know. This may be deeply uncomfortable, and that’s good.” He goes on to say that “building an army of people who trust you and think you’re talented will be invaluable when you look for jobs.” What he doesn’t say is that the cost of all those dinners and drinks may, depending on the number in Stephen’s army, cost more than a year’s tuition.
Click here to view the rest of the article via In Defense of the MBA – Businessweek.