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robertogreco : mba   12

“When You Get That Wealthy, You Start to Buy Your Own Bullshit”: The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg | Vanity Fair
"Harvard Business School invented the “leadership” industry—and produced a generation of corporate monsters. No wonder Sandberg, one of the school’s most prominent graduates, lacks a functioning moral compass."



"The truth is, Harvard Business School, like much of the M.B.A. universe in which Sandberg was reared, has always cared less about moral leadership than career advancement and financial performance. The roots of the problem can be found in the School’s vaunted “Case Method,” a discussion-based pedagogy that asks students to put themselves in the role of corporate Übermensch. At the start of each class, one unlucky soul is put in the hot seat, presented with a “what would you do” scenario, and then subjected to the ruthless interrogation of their peers. Graded on a curve, the intramural competition can be intense—M.B.A.s are super-competitive, after all.

Let’s be clear about this: in business, as in life, there isn’t always one correct answer. So the teaching of a decision-making philosophy that is deliberate and systematic, but still open-minded, is hardly controversial on its face. But to help students overcome the fear of sounding stupid and being remorselessly critiqued, they are reminded, in case after case—and with emphasis—that there are no right answers. And that has had the unfortunate effect of opening up a chasm of moral equivalence in too many of their graduates.

And yet, there are obviously many situations where some answers are more right than others. Especially when it comes to moral issues like privacy, around which both Sandberg and Facebook have a history of demonstrating poor judgment. While H.B.S. is correct in its assertion that it produces people who can make decisions, the fact of the matter is that they have never emphasized how to make the right ones.

Consider investment banker Bowen McCoy’s “The Parable of the Sadhu,” published in Harvard Business Review in 1977, and again 20 years later. It addressed what seemed, at least to the H.B.S. crowd, to be an ethical dilemma. McCoy was on a trip to the Himalayas when his expedition encountered a sadhu, or holy man, near death from hypothermia and exposure. Their compassion extended only to clothing the man and leaving him in the sun, before continuing on to the summit. One of McCoy’s group saw a “breakdown between the individual ethic and the group ethic,” and was gripped by guilt that the climbers had not made absolutely sure that the sadhu made it down the mountain alive. McCoy’s response: “Here we are . . . at the apex of one of the most powerful experiences of our lives. . . . What right does an almost naked pilgrim who chooses the wrong trail have to disrupt our lives?”

McCoy later felt guilt over the incident, but his parable nevertheless illustrated the extent to which aspiring managers might justify putting personal accomplishment ahead of collateral damage—including the life of a dying man. The fact that H.B.S. enthusiastically incorporated said parable into its curriculum says far more about the fundamental mindset of the school than almost anything else that has come out of it. The “dilemma” was perfectly in line with the thinking at H.B.S. that an inability to clearly delineate the right choice in business isn’t the fault of the chooser but rather a fundamental characteristic of business, itself.

Here’s a slightly more recent example: remember Jeff Skilling? Like Sandberg, he graduated from H.B.S. and went to work at McKinsey. And like Sandberg, he left McKinsey for a C-suite gig—in his case, Enron—that took him to the stratosphere. Again like Sandberg, he basked in adulation over his ability to deliver shareholder returns. Skilling had done so, of course, by turning Enron into one of the greatest frauds the world has ever seen.

One of Skilling’s H.B.S. classmates, John LeBoutillier, who went on to be a U.S. congressman, later recalled a case discussion in which the students were debating what the C.E.O. should do if he discovered that his company was producing a product that could be potentially fatal to consumers. “I’d keep making and selling the product,” he recalled Skilling saying. “My job as a businessman is to be a profit center and to maximize return to the shareholders. It’s the government’s job to step in if a product is dangerous.” Several students nodded in agreement, recalled LeBoutillier. “Neither Jeff nor the others seemed to care about the potential effects of their cavalier attitude. . . . At H.B.S. . . . you were then, and still are, considered soft or a wuss if you dwell on morality or scruples.”

Why do so many M.B.A.s struggle to make the ethical decisions that seem so clear to the rest of us? Is it right to employ a scummy P.R. firm to deflect attention from our failures? Is it O.K. if we bury questions about user privacy and consent under a mountain of legalese? Can we get away with repeatedly choosing profits over principles and then promising that we will do better in the future?

If you think this kind of thing isn’t still going on at Harvard Business School—or wasn’t going on when Sandberg graduated in 1995—I refer you to Michel Anteby, who joined the faculty 10 years later, in 2005. At first enthusiastic, Anteby was soon flummoxed by the complete absence of normative viewpoints in classroom discussion. “I grew up in France where there were very articulated norms,” he told the BBC in 2015. “Higher norms and lower norms. Basically, you have convictions of what was right or wrong, and when I tried to articulate this in the classroom, I encountered . . . silence on the part of students. Because they weren’t used to these value judgments in the classroom.”

Eight years after his arrival, Anteby published Manufacturing Morals: The Values of Silence in Business School Education. The book was not published by Harvard but the University of Chicago Press. Calling the case system an “unscripted journey” for students, it was one of the first times an insider had joined the chorus of outsiders who have long criticized the case method as one that glamorizes the C.E.O.-as-hero, as well as the overuse of martial terminology in business curricula. (The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Mark Zuckerberg currently considers Facebook “at war.”)

“H.B.S. studies everybody under the sun,” Anteby told me in early 2015. “There is no reason we should be off limits.” Alas, they were. Not long after his book was published, Anteby came to believe that H.B.S. would not grant him tenure, and left the school soon after. “He is an unbelievably productive and smart guy,” one of his supporters, the University of Michigan’s Jerry Davis, told me later that year. “And they fired him. Probably because H.B.S. wasn’t the right place to have a conversation about itself. It would be like being at Versailles in 1789, offering up leadership secrets of Louis XIV. The really unfortunate part is that he wasn’t as harsh as he should have been, because he was up for tenure.”

The absence of voices like Anteby’s are evident to this day, and an ongoing indictment of the culture that turned Facebook from a Harvard sophomore’s dorm-room project into what passes for a Harvard Business School success story. Return one last time to the H.B.R. Web site, and you will find a case study that was published just a few months ago entitled “Facebook—Can Ethics Scale in the Digital Age?” Set aside the abuse of the English language in the question—M.B.A.s specialize in that kind of thing. The mere fact that it’s being asked serves as resounding proof that the moral equivalence problem is still with us today. The question is not whether or not a company of Facebook’s size and reach can stay ethical. The question is whether it will even try."
harvard  harvardbusinessschool  ethics  sherylsandberg  facebook  2018  business  careerism  morality  hbs  via:nicoleslaw  leadership  billclinton  mba  mbas  harvardbusinessrevie  hbr  duffmcdonald  competition  competitiveness  winning  decisionmaking  billgeorge  larrysummers  abrahamzaleznik  johnleboutillier  jeffskilling  bowenmccoy  michelanteby  norms  values  capitalism  neoliberalism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Why we should bulldoze the business school | News | The Guardian
"There are 13,000 business schools on Earth. That’s 13,000 too many. And I should know – I’ve taught in them for 20 years. By Martin Parker



Visit the average university campus and it is likely that the newest and most ostentatious building will be occupied by the business school. The business school has the best building because it makes the biggest profits (or, euphemistically, “contribution” or “surplus”) – as you might expect, from a form of knowledge that teaches people how to make profits.

Business schools have huge influence, yet they are also widely regarded to be intellectually fraudulent places, fostering a culture of short-termism and greed. (There is a whole genre of jokes about what MBA – Master of Business Administration – really stands for: “Mediocre But Arrogant”, “Management by Accident”, “More Bad Advice”, “Master Bullshit Artist” and so on.) Critics of business schools come in many shapes and sizes: employers complain that graduates lack practical skills, conservative voices scorn the arriviste MBA, Europeans moan about Americanisation, radicals wail about the concentration of power in the hands of the running dogs of capital. Since 2008, many commentators have also suggested that business schools were complicit in producing the crash.

Having taught in business schools for 20 years, I have come to believe that the best solution to these problems is to shut down business schools altogether. This is not a typical view among my colleagues. Even so, it is remarkable just how much criticism of business schools over the past decade has come from inside the schools themselves. Many business school professors, particularly in north America, have argued that their institutions have gone horribly astray. B-schools have been corrupted, they say, by deans following the money, teachers giving the punters what they want, researchers pumping out paint-by-numbers papers for journals that no one reads and students expecting a qualification in return for their cash (or, more likely, their parents’ cash). At the end of it all, most business-school graduates won’t become high-level managers anyway, just precarious cubicle drones in anonymous office blocks.

These are not complaints from professors of sociology, state policymakers or even outraged anti-capitalist activists. These are views in books written by insiders, by employees of business schools who themselves feel some sense of disquiet or even disgust at what they are getting up to. Of course, these dissenting views are still those of a minority. Most work within business schools is blithely unconcerned with any expression of doubt, participants being too busy oiling the wheels to worry about where the engine is going. Still, this internal criticism is loud and significant.

The problem is that these insiders’ dissent has become so thoroughly institutionalised within the well-carpeted corridors that it now passes unremarked, just an everyday counterpoint to business as usual. Careers are made by wailing loudly in books and papers about the problems with business schools. The business school has been described by two insiders as “a cancerous machine spewing out sick and irrelevant detritus”. Even titles such as Against Management, Fucking Management and The Greedy Bastard’s Guide to Business appear not to cause any particular difficulties for their authors. I know this, because I wrote the first two. Frankly, the idea that I was permitted to get away with this speaks volumes about the extent to which this sort of criticism means anything very much at all. In fact, it is rewarded, because the fact that I publish is more important than what I publish.

Most solutions to the problem of the B-school shy away from radical restructuring, and instead tend to suggest a return to supposedly more traditional business practices, or a form of moral rearmament decorated with terms such as “responsibility” and “ethics”. All of these suggestions leave the basic problem untouched, that the business school only teaches one form of organising – market managerialism.

That’s why I think that we should call in the bulldozers and demand an entirely new way of thinking about management, business and markets. If we want those in power to become more responsible, then we must stop teaching students that heroic transformational leaders are the answer to every problem, or that the purpose of learning about taxation laws is to evade taxation, or that creating new desires is the purpose of marketing. In every case, the business school acts as an apologist, selling ideology as if it were science."



"The easiest summary of all of the above, and one that would inform most people’s understandings of what goes on in the B-school, is that they are places that teach people how to get money out of the pockets of ordinary people and keep it for themselves. In some senses, that’s a description of capitalism, but there is also a sense here that business schools actually teach that “greed is good”. As Joel M Podolny, the former dean of Yale School of Management, once opined: “The way business schools today compete leads students to ask, ‘What can I do to make the most money?’ and the manner in which faculty members teach allows students to regard the moral consequences of their actions as mere afterthoughts.”

This picture is, to some extent, backed up by research, although some of this is of dubious quality. There are various surveys of business-school students that suggest that they have an instrumental approach to education; that is to say, they want what marketing and branding tells them that they want. In terms of the classroom, they expect the teaching of uncomplicated and practical concepts and tools that they deem will be helpful to them in their future careers. Philosophy is for the birds.

As someone who has taught in business schools for decades, this sort of finding doesn’t surprise me, though others suggest rather more incendiary findings. One US survey compared MBA students to people who were imprisoned in low-security prisons and found that the latter were more ethical. Another suggested that the likelihood of committing some form of corporate crime increased if the individual concerned had experience of graduate business education, or military service. (Both careers presumably involve absolving responsibility to an organisation.) Other surveys suggest that students come in believing in employee wellbeing and customer satisfaction and leave thinking that shareholder value is the most important issue, and that business-school students are more likely to cheat than students in other subjects."



"The sorts of doors to knowledge we find in universities are based on exclusions. A subject is made up by teaching this and not that, about space (geography) and not time (history), about collectives of people (sociology) and not about individuals (psychology), and so on. Of course, there are leakages and these are often where the most interesting thinking happens, but this partitioning of the world is constitutive of any university discipline. We cannot study everything, all the time, which is why there are names of departments over the doors to buildings and corridors.

However, the B-school is an even more extreme case. It is constituted through separating commercial life from the rest of life, but then undergoes a further specialisation. The business school assumes capitalism, corporations and managers as the default form of organisation, and everything else as history, anomaly, exception, alternative. In terms of curriculum and research, everything else is peripheral.

Most business schools exist as parts of universities, and universities are generally understood as institutions with responsibilities to the societies they serve. Why then do we assume that degree courses in business should only teach one form of organisation – capitalism – as if that were the only way in which human life could be arranged?

The sort of world that is being produced by the market managerialism that the business school sells is not a pleasant one. It’s a sort of utopia for the wealthy and powerful, a group that the students are encouraged to imagine themselves joining, but such privilege is bought at a very high cost, resulting in environmental catastrophe, resource wars and forced migration, inequality within and between countries, the encouragement of hyper-consumption as well as persistently anti-democratic practices at work.

Selling the business school works by ignoring these problems, or by mentioning them as challenges and then ignoring them in the practices of teaching and research. If we want to be able to respond to the challenges that face human life on this planet, then we need to research and teach about as many different forms of organising as we are able to collectively imagine. For us to assume that global capitalism can continue as it is means to assume a path to destruction. So if we are going to move away from business as usual, then we also need to radically reimagine the business school as usual. And this means more than pious murmurings about corporate social responsibility. It means doing away with what we have, and starting again."
mba  business  education  capitalism  businessschools  latecapitalism  2018  martinparker  highereducation  highered  corporatism  universities  colleges  society  priorities  managerialism  exclusions  privilege  environment  sustainability  markets  destruction  ethics  publicgood  neoliberalism  finance  money 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Why having an MBA is a negative hiring signal (for startups) by Dalton Caldwell
Business school trains people to think of themselves as special snowflakes, future masters of business, worthy of extremely high compensation and authority. Given that a high percentage of business school classes funnel into Wall Street and multinational corporations, it’s also a given that any top-tier MBA has classmates are all making ridiculously high salaries and have extremely powerful jobs. The net effect is that, psychologically, an MBA has to be doing as well or better than their classmates to feel good about themselves.
Thus one primary motivation of an MBA is to secure their own massive salary, stock and title… and this motivation is diametrically opposed to the psychological makeup of a succesful startup team-member. Given the social pressure MBAs must feel from their investment banker friends, we can’t really blame them; it’s human nature 101.
In fact, learning a bunch of case-studies in a class about startups actually makes you dangerous, because it increases your self-confidence that you actually grok entrepreneurship and innovation, with no actual increase in personal know-how.
business  school  psychology  mba  businessschool  competition  motivation  collaboration  via:tealtan 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Have American Businesses Been Stranded By the MBAs? - Slashdot
"In his new book, Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business, legendary car-guy Bob Lutz says to get the U.S. economy growing again, we need to fire the MBAs & let engineers run the show. The auto industry, writes TIME's Rana Foroohar, is actually a terrific proxy for a trend toward short-term, myopically balance-sheet-driven management that has infected American business. In the first half of 20th century, industrial giants like Ford, GE, AT&T & others used new technologies to create the best possible products & services w/ idea that if you build it better, the customers will come. But by late 70s, if-you-can-measure-it-you-can-manage-it MBAs were flourishing, & engineers were relegated to the geek back rooms. 'Shoemakers should be run by shoe guys,' argues Lutz, '& software firms by software guys.' Learning that China plans to open 40 new graduate schools of business in next few years, Lutz quipped, 'That's the best news I've heard in years.'"
management  business  books  productivity  shortterm  mba  economics  bigthree  technology  progress  measurement  assessment  china  us 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Business School for KaosPilots | Fast Company
"Unlike traditional business schools, nearly 30% of the training program focuses on developing each student's "inner pilot," using assertiveness training, stress prevention, group dynamics, and physical training."
århus  education  learning  kaospilots  fastcompany  uffeelbaek  altgdp  business  entrepreneurship  denmark  scandinavia  universities  social  mba  alternative  gamechanging 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Don't try to dodge the recession with grad school | Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist
"1. Grad school pointlessly delays adulthood. 2. PhD programs are pyramid schemes 3. Business school is not going to help 90% of the people who go. 4. Law school is a factory for depressives. 5. The medical school model assumes that health care spending is not a mess. 6. Going to grad school is like going into the military. 7. Most jobs are better than they seem: You can learn from any job. 8. Graduate school forces you to overinvest: It’s too high risk."

[via: http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2009/03/was-recent-productivity-growth-an-illusion.html ]
gradschool  education  investment  money  finance  learning  economics  management  advice  medicine  mba  recession  crisis  2009  risk  penelopetrunk 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Seth's Blog: If you could change your life
"'m offering an apprenticeship/not-internship/graduate school/charm school track-changing opportunity to a few people this winter. It's free, it's fairly audacious and I hope you'll check it out. It might not be for you (in fact, it probably isn't) but I have no doubt that you know people who might be interested.

I'm convinced that there are people out there who--given the right teaching, encouragement and opportunity--can change the world. I'm hoping you can prove me right. You don't have much time and there are only a few slots, so if you're even flirting with this idea, check out the lens here.
Two years at business school is a lot of time (and money) to spend to change paths these days. Most people over 20 can't afford either. I think six months might be a lot more do-able."

[see also: http://www.squidoo.com/Alternative-MBA ]
education  learning  leadership  careers  sethgodin  mba  alternative  apprenticeships  lcproject  gradschool  internships  marketing 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Don't go to business school - Instead of getting an MBA, consider spending six months in my office
"If you're stuck in a dead end job in publishing, or if you made a not-so-great choice in getting your career started, or if you thought Wall Street would be a different place, or if you just got laid off, or if you're not crazy about fretting away the next six months waiting to get fired and you're not quite ready to start your own gig... this might be the turbolift you were hoping for. Yes, it's free.
It's a chance to get off that track and onto a new track, faster and cheaper than most of the alternatives. And it might even be fun."

[see also: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/12/if-you-could-ch.html ]
education  learning  leadership  careers  sethgodin  mba  alternative  apprenticeships  lcproject  gradschool  internships  marketing 
december 2008 by robertogreco
This Blog Sits at the: C-Schools: further thoughts on branding, creativity and education - "skunk works approach to creativity, where a group inside a corporation works according to its own agenda, communes with its own gods"
"Some of the best "schools"of creativity, strategy and innovation are inside the corporation. If someone were just finishing an MBA or a design program, and looking for "higher education," he or she could do worse than to spend a year or so at a corporati
business  creativity  innovation  education  mba  design  universities  colleges  work  experience  skunkworks  altgdp  leadership  management  small  administration  grantmccracken 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Cool Tool: The Personal MBA
"figured out I would learn more spending $500 in self-education...devoted $200 for books...$300 actually starting small mail-order business (the fee went for an ad). In 2 years I learned more about how business really worked than any MBA graduate I had me
education  kevinkelly  learning  entrepreneurship  business  mba  schools  colleges  universities  money  autodidacts 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Grockit - Learning 2.0
"Grockit's mission is to abolish Education and replace it with Learning...to develop our MMOL (Massive Multi-Player Online Learning) game."
MMO  homeschool  social  socialnetworking  games  mba  business  multiplayer  collaborative  education  entrepreneurship  gradschool  alternative  tutoring  testing  gmat  elearning  simulations  finance  learning  teaching  study  software  collaboration  socialsoftware  socialnetworks  online  internet  web 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Seth's Blog: NOBS, the end of the MBA
"As far as I can tell, there are only three reasons to apply to business school. My school, the New Order Business School (NoBS), will focus on excelling at all three."
business  education  sethgodin  entrepreneurship  learning  humor  culture  mba  masters  altgdp  leadership  ideas  management 
may 2007 by robertogreco

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