What is an MBA Worth?

What a topic to blog about! I am just being contrary and hope to get a lot of flak!

For sometime now, I have been pondering writing about the MBA degree and recently, I came across this interesting article in the New York Times. The article and the comments on it are very interesting in their range and depth of emotions that the topic has evoked.

After my post on “Ambition” was published, one of my non commenting, but emailing readers suggested that since I have strong views on the subject, I might like to post on this rather controversial subject.

A little background. I have been known to be a kind of a maverick in the field of management in India for openly advocating treating MBA qualification as just a filtering process. By this, what I mean is, that entrance examinations and hurdles to get into India’s premier and second rung schools of business management, filter out a great many aspirants. So, when someone goes to one of these schools for campus recruitment, what one really does is save a lot of time, cost and energy in weeding out useless applications for jobs.

The knowledge and skills learnt in these business schools, or online MBA programs, are of no real use in practical management which usually is industry or organization specific. What happens, after a graduate from one of these schools joins up, is that he learns how this particular organization runs, adapts, himself to it or not, and uses the limits which the organizational discipline and politics impose on him to succeed. I have seen that this is done quite successfully by non MBAs too, particularly, young hungry graduates from other disciplines and hands-on workers starting from the bottom of the pile. Where the MBA perhaps has an edge is in his written communication skills and this is not something that cannot be taught to the others.

For instance, someone can be taught to use the language used in the cartoon here, quite easily. Probability cartoon4809987.cms

Since this language, known universally as jargon, is so comic, there is usually antipathy between those that use it, read MBAs and those who use ordinary language to convey ideas.

So, my submission is that if an organization wants to pay a premium for an MBA, it must have people capable of understanding this language. Logically, it will be people with MBA degrees. So, what it really boils down to is that it is an old boy network that is in operation and not really any inherent advantage of a Master’s degree in Business Management.

This is the same network that is likely to come up with this as well. HR cartoon4796760.cms

Senior Managers and Proprietors of enterprises complain to me that the MBAs are the most complaining and the least loyal Why is it that this network is constantly whining?


A = Complains

B = Solves

C = Mutual Antipathy

D = ?

I have tried to depict the situation in a diagram as G L Hoffman so eloquently does in his blog ‘What Would Dad Say’. Being a first attempt, it is not as effective as GL’s is. I invite him to answer the Question Mark.

After this post went live, GL filled in the blank for D as being “What’s in it for me?”

A while later, Grannymar came up with a comment with this link:

What a blast! Please watch this. Grannymar, where do you come up with these priceless items of wisdom!?

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