Facts on MBA relevance

Strategy and decision-making simply get too little attention, according to latest solid evidence on this topic, in an academic paper too. How Relevant Is the MBA? [details below] took the simple but powerful approach of comparing the content-mix of 373 MBA programs with the managerial requirements specified in companies’ competency models. Over-weighted and under-weighted content were …

Too much:

  • logistics and technology
  • managing the task environment
  • administration and control [nearly 2* too much]

Too little:

  • managing people
  • decision-making [barely 1/2 the required emphasis]
  • strategy and innovation [barely 1/2 the required emphasis] 

… and that’s without saying anything about whether the content provided on these two critical competencies is any good.

The Academy of Management Learning and Education (AMLE) 
   Issue:   Volume 8, Number 2 / June 2009 
   Pages:   208 – 224 

How Relevant Is the MBA? Assessing the Alignment of Required Curricula and Required Managerial Competencies
Robert S. Rubin and Erich C. Dierdorff


Masters of business administration (MBA) programs are being met with escalating criticism from academics, students, and various organizational stakeholders. Central to these criticisms is the contention that the MBA is wholly out-of-touch with the “real world” and is irrelevant to the needs of practicing managers. Examining this contention, we investigated the relevancy of MBA curricula in relation to managerial competency requirements. Relying on an empirically derived competency model from 8,633 incumbent managers across 52 managerial occupations, our results showed that behavioral competencies indicated by managers to be most critical are the very competencies least represented in required MBA curricula. Findings further indicate that institutional factors such as media rankings and mission orientation have no effect on the alignment of MBA curricula with critical managerial competencies.

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