Out of touch MBAs add little to the bottom line

Jonas Ridderstrale, author of the best-selling management book, Funky
Business, likes to refer to the old joke about MBA standing for ‘mediocre but
arrogant’. And it’s not sour grapes – Ridderstrale has an MBA himself.
According to him, MBA graduates share a "dirty little secret".

The secret is that they all study the same books.

His point is that MBA graduates cannot give your organisation a competitive
advantage if they are just introducing the same business models as their peers
in competitor organisations.

Research by the Work Foundation, revealed exclusively in this week’s issue
of Personnel Today (Features, page 21) questions the value of MBAs and whether
companies are getting any return on course fees of up to £60,000. Organisations
are spending at least £10m a year on people who repay them by leaving the
company within a year of graduating, the research shows.

From the graduates’ point of view, the MBA brand is as powerful as ever as
it is a passport into the lucrative world of international consulting. Nearly a
quarter of MBAs work in consulting, and less than one in 10 were doing so
before they took the degree.

Even if the MBA graduate stays you probably have no measure of how effective
they have been. Little or no work has been done on assessing MBA graduates’
contribution.

Which brings us to the biggest concern of all: hardly any MBAs cover HR
management and few offer training on personal development and leadership. In
other words the MBA concept is looking increasingly out of touch with the real
world where it is recognised that in the knowledge economy it is people who
provide the only source of competitive advantage.

It is time companies stopped being star-struck by MBAs and started asking if
they are worth the paper they are printed on.

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