Here are two interesting pieces about the role of business schools in the recent economic meltdown. One is a podcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National called “Most Bloody Awful”. Here the history of management is examined, which up until about 35 years ago was a craft that one learned in a company by working one’s way up and aquiring knowledge important to this particular sector. While today one buys an MBA at a business school where one gets told that afterwards one can manage everything from a company to a government agency not matter what it is about. Another way of phrasing this is: “People with money buy an admission ticket to a higher paying job” – think elite…
Interestingly enough this topic was taken up a few weeks ago by “Tagesanzeiger” here in Switzerland. Here they asked about the role of local pride and joy the Universität St. Gallen (which was called Hochschule until about 1994 btw).
Der frühere Rektor Rolf Dubs fragt sich in einem Gastbeitrag im «St. Galler Tagblatt», «warum es in der Ausbildung der massgeblichen Führungskräfte nicht gelungen ist, die Studierenden zu einem vernünftigen unternehmerischen Verhalten zu erziehen». «Unbestritten» ist laut Dubs: «Die katastrophale Bankenkrise ist zu einem guten Teil die Folge eines sträflichen Versagens vieler – nicht aller – höheren Führungskräfte bei Banken, Revisions-, Ratings- und Beratungsgesellschaften.»
And more in this vein, for those capable of reading german. Basically they know something went wrong and think they ought to do something, but not too much. The language is revealing though. People were “programmed” wrong and now they need an “excellency initiative” to set things right, and anyways we have a department for corporate ethics which we wouldn’t have if we were not interested in this whole morale thing. I advise to read the comments as well. On average people who went through this school are not very highly regarded at least not by the readers of the Tagesanzeiger. Judging by my own experiences with that institute (didn’t go there, but studied economics close by in Basel – I know people who went there and came from there and visited from time to time myself) this is an institution that rewards and pushes for competitive behavior much of which can be regarded as asocial. Just one example I know of is that students there hid books in the library so others would not be able to prepare properly for their exams thereby increasing their chances. This was not an isolated case, even though I don’t know whether this happens again with every new generation. The other problem is the mentioned sense of entitlement a lot of these people have, even though it was something I encountered in Basel as well. Nowadays I have come to the conclusion that people who study economics for the most part are not interested in the subject. They want a high paying job afterwards. This alone skews the fraction of asocial people in that particular domain in a bad direction – imho.