Are Business Schools “Guilty” or “Innocent”? (The Situation in Europe and North America)
“With so many people getting an MBA, when is this bubble going to burst?” Irony aside, the AACSB, one of the international accreditation organizations, is currently discussing this question: Are business schools “guilty” or “innocent”?
In 2007, one year after the appearance of the Japanese translation of H. Mintzberg’s “Managers Not MBAs” (described above), the subprime loan problem struck, causing a worldwide financial crisis. At the time, one felt that this was exactly what had been predicted, at just that time. Yet even after this happened, an increasing number of people working on Wall Street or in London continued to pursue MBAs, just as they had before the crisis.
Why is this? It can only be explained in that the large amount of money (i.e., investment in oneself) required to obtain an MBA in Western countries is one way to enter the financial and securities worlds, where extremely high remuneration rates are guaranteed to those who succeed. Naturally, the high expense fees for MBA courses in the West are designed to cover the expenses for employing professors at each business school. Why, then, are these professors paid such high salaries? This is because business schools compete to attract researchers who publish in the most well-known business-related journals. And the reason for that is the emphasis that is placed on the MBA ranking of business schools.
Why do business schools pursue a high MBA ranking? Because people who obtain an MBA at a highly ranked school can expect to earn high salaries in the financial sector, money that will cover even the considerable expenses of the MBA courses. This “vicious cycle” naturally leads to pressure for business schools to invest more in their MBA-program’s monetary and finance courses. That, in turn, contributes to the pursuit by private companies of short-term quantitative performance.
Fortunately, at this time, one does not see such a vicious cycle occurring in Japanese business schools; conversely, there is a strange trend of touting cheap tuitions. Since we have entered an era where MBA acquisition is a good investment in oneself, it is high time that in our country we reconsidered, from a wide variety of perspectives, the value of an MBA.