Too Many MBA’s in the World?

By Shlomo Maital

          MBA Dilbert

Yesterday’s (Monday July 19 2013)  Financial Times, p. 8, has a report on business schools (Emma Boyde, “A degree of relevance for the 21st C.?”   p. 8).  

   According to FT,    there are 15,673 institutions worldwide offering business degrees at all levels.   “Are many students wasting their money on an irrelevant qualification?”  asks the article.  As someone who teaches MBA students, I am deeply disturbed by this issue. 

   The MBA degree accounts for 2/3 of all graduate business degrees in the US.   Basically, America invented the MBA.  In 2011-12,  some 156,400 students were enrolled in US MBA programs.  Outside the U.S., 110,002 students were enrolled in MBA programs.

   That means that worldwide,  there were a over  a quarter of a million MBA students worldwide.  Assuming the vast majority of MBA programs are now 12 months in duration,  this suggestions that over a decade,  there will be 2.5 million new holders of MBA degrees, added to the millions of existing MBA’s.

    The article asks,  “The world has moved on, the question is have business schools moved on and the answer is, not yet!”.

    The fundamental problem?  In an age when new creative innovative thinking is needed on the part of managers, bizschools all teach more or less the same material, the same tools, the same approach to management.  

   What then is the value of an MBA degree, if the holder has no unique differentiator?  Why study strategy, about creating unique value, if the MBA graduate or his or her expensive degree brings no unique value? 

    Why do we MBA professors teach our students that “this is the right way to manage, the way everyone manages,  read these case studies”,  when we should be teaching them, “here is how everybody manages, now, you can YOU do it better, differently, more creatively?  How can you BREAK the rules, after you learn what they are?”