The Problem with Business Schools (and Business School Students)

Posted on April 30, 2011

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David Glenn, Chronicle of Higher Education, U.S.

[...] Business [school]  majors spend less time preparing for class than do students in any other broad field, according to the most recent National Survey of Student Engagement: Nearly half of seniors majoring in business say they spend fewer than 11 hours a week studying outside class. In their new book, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, the sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa report that on a national test of writing and reasoning skills, business majors had the weakest gains during the first two years of college. [...]


This is not a small corner of academe. The family of majors under the business umbrella—including finance, accounting, marketing, management and “general business”—accounts for just over 20 percent, or more than 325,000, of all bachelor’s degrees awarded annually in the United States, making it the most popular field of study.[...]

Scholars in the field point to three sources of trouble. First, as long ago as 1959 a Ford Foundation report warned that too many undergraduate business students chose their majors “by default.” Business programs also attract more than their share of students who approach college in purely instrumental terms: as a plausible path to a job, not out of curiosity about, say, Ronald Coase’s theory of the firm.

“Business education has come to be defined in the minds of students as a place for developing elite social networks and getting access to corporate recruiters,” says Rakesh Khurana, a professor at Harvard Business School who is a prominent critic of the field. It’s an attitude that he first saw in M.B.A. programs but has migrated, he says, to the undergraduate level. [Please click here to read more]

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