Business schools and MBAs – what do employers want?

Are business schools losing their credibility?

Hult International Business School commissioned research to find out what senior level executives, managers and academics feel about the current state of business education - in particular of MBA programmes.  Interviews were conducted around the world, although the majority of those participating were based in organisations in North America.Key findingsThe ten skills and abilities the interviewees identified as critical are:
  • Ambiguity and uncertainty - graduates need to be comfortable when there are no clear answers - and to be able to cope with failure
  • Communication - excellent skills in all formats
  • Creativity - unique approaches to tackling challenges
  • Critical thinking skills - deep analysis and the formulation of solutions
  • Cross-cultural competence - graduates should be comfortable dealing with diversity
  • ‘Execution' - getting things done and making an immediate impact
  • Integrity - ethical principles in public and private
  • Sales skills - including persuasion and influence
  • Self-awareness - including an understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Team skills - working in global and collaborative workplaces
The research also calls for business schools to concentrate on simulating ‘real world experiences' and to move away from theoretical teaching.The challenge of connecting the ‘real world' to academic research is also discussed by Tse and Esposito on this London School of Economics blog.  In it they suggest that accreditation leads to too much standardisation across curricula and ensures that business subjects are ‘compartmentalised'.  They consider this compartmentalised approach to be one of the major factors in business schools losing credibility with the business community.Obviously, it's not just employers who may question the value of university courses.  With many economists failing to predict the global economic crash of 2008, the International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics is calling for radical changes in the way economics is taught. They too highlight the lack of interdisciplinary approaches.