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November 29, 2006

« The gastronomic index | Main | Universities, the real world, and public intellectuals »

This Business Week piece by MIT Sloan School Dean, Richard Schmalensee is very, very interesting:

"To our critics, including many successful  managers, business schools have become little more than exercises in ticket punching for would-be consultants, taught by faculty who are more interested in impressing their academic colleagues than in confronting real-world business problems. Although overstated, this caricature has a grain of truth. ...[M]anagement school faculty often focus on academic fields such as game theory or econometrics, not on management practice, and their work may have little to do with real business problems. ... Critics charge that such faculty (some who may not even know or care much about business) can teach business students little or nothing about how to actually manage--in other words, to accomplish things with and through other people. ...Unfortunately, under the current academic reward system, what matters most is having an impact among peers, mainly by getting specialized research published in influential journals. ... Even after faculty get lifetime tenure, if they veer from the traditional academic path, they will likely lose stature within the academy. Few have a strong enough ego not to care. At the core of management school criticism, then, is a fundamental mismatch: the academic system's current methods for hiring and rewarding professors don't necessarily attract or encourage the kind of practitioner-oriented faculty we need to make business-school research and MBA education much more attuned to meeting today's and tomorrow's management challenges.... Many are willing and anxious to solve this problem, but, like me, are not quite certain how to do so. ... [B]usiness schools' research agendas must become primarily driven by real-life management problems. But in order for this change to happen, problem-driven research must become recognized and honored as a great way to advance, not jeopardize, an academic career."

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