This topic is rather sensitive, as it deals with the current status of the MBA in Japan. The question is, which MBA should one choose to guarantee success? In Japan, where MBA education is still under development, many mistaken ideas exist concerning the nature of business schools and MBA education. There are programs where no practical experience is necessary. In one sense or another, the program must match the personal goals of participants as well as company goals for human resource development. Concretely, there is the Master of Science, which requires no previous experience, in which one is educated in a specific business domain. There is the MBA program itself (which requires 3 or more years of practical experience), which aims at educating core personnel. There is the Executive MBA (which requires 10 or more years of business experience), whose purpose is to educate candidates for managerial as well as high-level key posts within a company. This much, at least, enjoys a shared awareness among business schools in Japan.
- Admission: MBA program with no actual business experience necessary
- Enrollment: simple approval for individual course credits
- Completion: easy-to-fulfill graduation standards
I still have some reservations about programs with extremely high rates of individual course credit approvals. Especially for the MBA, with its practical and participatory-style of lectures based on case studies, the extent a student contributes to the class naturally becomes a part of that student’s grade evaluation. Failing to differentiate between students will cause a decline in active participation in classes, with the end result being that all students will learn less from the course. Therefore, strict credit approval standards are indispensable. The MBA program is a site for fostering the development of business leaders who can stand out from the competition, and it requires strict evaluations of credits for graduation in addition to stringent completion tasks that necessitate comprehensive and cumulative learning over the 2-year period.
Just a further thought: I also have my doubts concerning business schools that have no research activities. A business school needs both “wheels” (education as well as research) in order to “roll.” New knowledge is generated via a combination of logical research and practical research, and the very mission of a business school lies in creating educational activities that have a strong and lasting impact.