There’s been quite a bit of press recently questioning the benefits of a business education for those who want to start their own businesses. For instance, in an article titled “You Could Get There Faster Without An MBA” in the Business Insider, author Jay Bhatti says that the cost and the time commitments for getting an MBA make the degree less valuable than just jumping right in and innovating.
Over the past few years, business school deans have come under the scrutinizing eye of the media, as some schools have been actively recruiting new deans while getting rid of old ones. How important are deans to their schools? Can a good dean champion an MBA program to success? Let’s have a look at what deans actually do.
One of the main functions of a dean is to provide guidance, steering their school in specific academic and philosophical directions. A dean’s direction should ultimately provide a mission – and he or she should implement programs to meet goals. Last year, the business school world watched a shift in philosophy at Harvard when its business school named Nitin Nohria as its new dean. Nohria, who has long-developed interests in both business conduct and corporate transformation (he authored a great, forward-thinking book called Changing Fortunes: Remaking the Industrial Corporation,) quickly moved to integrate business ethics and a focus on teamwork into the school’s revamped curriculum. Although this shift can be seen as reactionary – many critics of HBS are quick to point out that some of their MBAs like Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling acted rather unethically in their business dealings – it also represents a legitimate commitment to curtail these moral lapses. At the very least, Nohria’s appointment demonstrates a continued transition away from an era of American exceptionalism: Jay Light, Harvard’s previous dean, had made strides to re-brand Harvard as a global school, strides that Nohria will undoubtedly lengthen with his international focus.
Is bigger necessarily better? BusinessWeek asked Doug Guthrie, the dean of George Washington University’s School of Business, if the size of a school’s program mattered. He responded by saying that it generally depends, and that larger programs can spread their message more effectively – but that in the end, a smaller class size is ultimately better because faculty can have closer and more intimate interaction with students.
Intuitively, this makes sense. A small number of people means more direct interaction, and more cohesion. But does a smaller class size make a difference in the long run – and is this effect quantifiable?
There’s been a lot of recent press on CEIBS – mainly about how this Shanghai school is shooting to become one of the top business schools in the world (see “A Chinese B-school vies for Harvard status” from Forbes)
CEIBS (China Europe International Business School) was founded in 1994, and has since become one of the top business schools in Asia. It made headlines in 2009 when it became the first Asian business school to land in the Financial Times’ top ten list of global MBA programs.
It’s summertime, and while that means sun and beaches (or internships) for students, it is also a good time for business schools to make changes to their MBA programs and update their curriculums. With huge changes afloat in the global economy, top schools are using this summer as a chance to implement major updates that they hope will better adapt students for the shifts in business and ultimately land jobs.