This week’s letters

Research base on MBA too limited

I read Philip Whiteley’s article in Personnel Today with some frustration
("What about the people?", 25 June). The article makes some good
points – the need to select both candidates and courses with care, for example,
and to build the MBA into an overall development plan. It was flawed, however,
by being based on a study of just 20 courses, and the article failed to
disclose what those courses were. In the UK there are currently more than 90
full-time MBA courses – a sample of 20 is hardly a piece of fundamental

My advice to both companies and potential students is choose your course and
mode of study with care – the Association of MBA’s accreditation scheme is a
good start as less than 50 courses in the UK are accredited.

As you will probably guess I have an MBA and am also a Fellow of the CIPD.
Why did I do my MBA? Like most on my course, I was a specialist who wanted to
get a better understanding of other aspects of business.

Was HR in its various guises included on the course? Yes, but the most important
HR learning experience was via the large quantities of project work that formed
a key element of the programme. Am I now a consultant? Yes, but anyone who has
read any of Charles Handy’s views should not be surprised by that as typically
people will now move in and out of employment as they seek new challenges
during their working life.

In summary, I have worked in HR for more than 20 years and the complaints of
MBA students leaving straight after graduation are just the modern equivalent
of those I heard 20 years ago about graduate training scheme students –
"we support them for four years and then they just leave".

Any firm spending a lot of money on a training programme for an employee
should have a career plan for that individual mapped out which will both
challenge and utilise the new knowledge if they want them to stay. Why should
MBA students be different from any other employee?

Malcolm Green, MBA, FCIPD
Wigpool Consultants

MBAs: HR should be placed within business modules

As a first year executive MBA student I read the article ‘What about the
People?’ with great interest. Not wishing to blindly jump to the defence of the
MBA I took time to reflect and analyse the key issues raised. This, after all,
is one of the key skills taught on an MBA programme.

I can see a link between issues raised by the Work Foundation research and
the wider position and status of HR. While our function fails to achieve a seat
at the ‘top table’ the ‘people’ modules may struggle for attention in the
university classroom.

A better understanding of HR issues by non-specialists, perhaps through
greater inclusion on MBA programmes, would certainly raise the profile of the
function. This is a circular argument and we should be asking how we can break
that cycle.

To me it is not, however, about having a wide range of HR-specific modules.
In the longer term I believe it will be more effective to ensure the inclusion
of the relevant HR issues within the other business modules – specifically
operations management and strategic management.

The clear business benefits of HR can only really be shown in this context.
It is unfortunate that so few HR professionals undertake the qualification as
their input to group discussion could help influence this debate.

With regards to the MBA being a ‘badge’ this is surely no different from any
training intervention, unless, of course, the learning is actually applied back
at the workplace. Even in the short time since commencing my MBA studies I have
felt the benefit and feel confident I am learning something of value.

Gordon J Marshall
Manager, HR Planning, BMW Plant Hams Hallerrylunn

Venice prize was truly fantastic

I just wanted to let you know that we have just come back from our luxury
weekend in Venice. It was fantastic, the Hotel Danieli was certainly the most
luxurious place I have ever stayed in -and ever likely to. My husband Bill and
I were looked after so well.

I got married in February and although we had a few days honeymoon then we
decided we to consider our weekend in Venice part of our honeymoon, which made
it all the more special.

I’ll be entering them all your competitions from now on!

Mandy Anslow
Staff development officer, University of Essex

Banned terms are a waste of time

I’m afraid the word ‘spoon’ has always been a racist term in my book but
stretching it to eggs, as Guru does, is tenuous to say the least (18 June).

The political correctness that I object to is in job advertising – HR
directors have obviously taken a leaf from estate agents.

Terms that I’ve been told are a no-no include ‘Must be physically fit’ (when
the job involves heavy lifting) or ‘A good standard of written and spoken
English’ (if I wanted German, would it be a problem to say so?).

I’m all for equal opportunities and I don’t mind my adverts being reworded
but if it encourages people who have no possibility of actually performing the
job to apply, time is wasted all round.

Treading on egg shells (can I say that?) does no-one any favours and
Personnel Today should lead the way in laying down sensible language usage.
Perhaps you could compile a dictionary of acceptable terminology.

Tony Johnson
Via e-mail

Contradictions in tribunal facts

I wanted to write and congratulate Stephen Overell about his hilarious
article "Demise of the claim" (Research viewpoint, June 10) which
argues that employers have exaggerated the threat of growth in employment
tribunals. A sense of humour is such a rare quality in an HR specialist.

I found it particularly clever and refreshing where he used the phrase
"you’ve never had it so good" in the same article which confirms
jurisdiction for tribunals now come from 164 different areas, and tribunal
applications have risen by approximately 60 per cent in the last 20 years!

What a grasp on reality he has!

Via e-mail

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