Is Business Education Wreaking Havoc on Our Economic Health?

Philip Delves Broughton gained fame””or notoriety, depending on your vantage point””last year with the publication of “Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School.” In a provocative essay published in The Sunday Times, Broughton further skewers his alma mater, a.k.a. “masters of the apocalypse,” and accuses HBS of having their fingerprints on every recent financial fiasco.

Despite holding an MBA himself, the piece is an indictment against “that swollen class of jargon-spewing, value-destroying financiers and consultants have done more than any other group of people to create the economic misery we find ourselves in.” Guess he won’t be making any donations to the alumni fund!

Much of Broughton’s indignation is justified. The media, and schools themselves, were quick to address the issue of business ethics when the financial house of cards came tumbling down last fall. Is his targeted blaming of Harvard justified, though?

“You would think after failing on so many levels, the school that provides more business leaders than any other might feel some remorse. Not in the least. It’s onwards and upwards, with the very people who blew apart the world’s financial plumbing now demanding to fix the leak,” Broughton writes.

Even if you believe, as he does, that MBA stands for Me Before Anyone or Management By Accident, the reality is that MBAs are trained to be managers, administrators, and yes, even entrepreneurs. We’re not (usually) economists, and while there have been some spectacular failures associated with the top business schools, Broughton’s broad strokes disparage the countless MBAs working quietly –brilliantly– out of the limelight.


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