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MBA – still value for money?

The other day a friend who has just completed an MBA from a prestigious university was disconsolate to read an article by Tim Dodd in the Australian Financial Review (AFR, 17 May 2004) titled “MBAs are losing their cachet”.

Dodd argued that employers prefer people whose postgraduate studies were in a specialised field rather over a generalist MBA. This is all well and good, but I am fascinated by the idea that any pedagogical activity at all occurs in a management school, specialised degree or not.

Based on my own experience you can earn reasonable marks based upon judicious quotes from the Harvard Business Review and a day or two of swot before the exams. And do not get me started on the idea of ‘syndicate groups’. These are supposed to approximate team work in the real world.

But, in fact, they approximate the worst of all possible worlds. In syndicate groups no one can hear you scream!

Syndicate groups do not approximate work as there is no hierarchy underlying the exercise & no external definition of verities. Thus it is truly an exquisitely painful experience – there is the mismatch between people early in their degree and those who just want to end it all, not to mention those with children and full time jobs.

All in all postgraduate management studies are a good thing to have in one’s past!