In a paper entitled "To MBA or not to MBA”, Yehuda Baruch of Rouen Business School, examines the value of an MBA degree for graduates, employers and for society.
While the degree has come under fire in recent years (does it encourage unethical practices? Is it bias towards American culture? Does it contribute to net outcomes?), Baruch says that there is clear evidence that an MBA improves human capital, which encompasses scholastic, social, cultural, inner value and market value capital.
"The MBA is still flourishing and generating value for individuals, organizations and society,” said Baruch. "MBA graduates are in general better managers, and their employers benefit from their competencies. Moreover, improving managerial cadre is likely to result in long-term improvement in organizational effectiveness and subsequently an improved economy.”
Baruch collected data from a number of secondary sources and surveys conducted with managers from four leading firms in the United Kingdom and interviews with human resources managers in major US firms.
He concludes that an MBA improves a person’s confidence, individual prestige, allows one to develop a better professional network, and provides opportunity for increased remuneration, all positives which offset the degree’s high cost, the additional stress it puts on family life during studies and the relatively long time it takes to complete it.
As for society in general, Baruch posits that governments should nourish a nation-wide system of management education for the benefit of future generations, as better managers help organizations to optimize performance, which will be reflected in the country’s national competitiveness. Academically, high-quality MBA programs will reflect the quality of academic research, another issue of national interest.
The MBA isn’t right for everyone, however. He doesn’t recommend it for certain professionals (such as technicians, drivers, researchers, nurses, engineers, medical doctors, lawyers, and accountants), or top executives (for whom an EMBA would be more appropriate).
For those who’ve already done a first degree in business administration, the added value of doing an MBA would be primarily networks and status, instead of knowledge gained. Timing is also crucial. If it’s earned early in life, graduates might be overqualified for the low-level positions they need to make career progress.
"The future direction for the MBA should be based on both the stability and overall recognition it has gained so far, coupled with the constant need for renewal,” said Baruch.
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