The Problem With America's MBA Programshttp://www.fool.com/investing/general/2010/03/11/the-problem-with-americas-mba-programs.aspx Nick Kapur
March 11, 2010
Last October, in the throes of the Washington Redskins' worst football season since 1994, I wrote a lengthy critique of team owner Dan Snyder's highly questionable managerial skills. In essence, I likened Snyder's appalling track record to those of leaders at businesses such as AIG (NYSE: AIG ) , Bank of America's (NYSE: BAC ) Countrywide mortgage division, and General Motors.
Oddly enough, one major institution saw the parallel as well. According to a recent post on czabe.com, the website of sports-radio personality Steve Czaban, an MBA class at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business has taken up the "Snyder Case" as a means to illustrate how to not run a business.
This development is great news in some sense (the validation is nice, for one thing), but definitely not in others. In fact, I'm significantly more dissatisfied now than I was before.
The pot calling the kettle black
The McDonough case study only scratches the surface of a much larger issue. If business schools are studying the Redskins to learn how to not run a business, shouldn't the Redskins organization study business schools and learn how to not create leaders?
How about that?
From an academic point of view, I see the intent: Here's a failed business leader, so let's examine more closely. Snyder also dropped out of college, so the fact that he never went to business school is further fodder for the professors who are holding him up as an example. They think they can use the lessons of rogues like Snyder to effectively "educate" away behavioral problems before students have the opportunity to wield any real power. The theory seems plausible, and I certainly don't fault anyone for taking this approach, but I'm not sure it's going to do any good.
Here's the problem
The elephant in the room
It would be impossible to filter out every bad seed coming into an entire academic field, but clearly, there's something in the way these schools market and recruit, or perhaps in the way they emphasize certain values, that