[Paleopsych] NYT: The B School Blues: A Case Study
checker at panix.com
Sun May 22 01:15:03 UTC 2005
The B School Blues: A Case Study
By PAUL B. BROWN
IN a scorching indictment, two widely known professors say the
nation's business schools are too focused on research and are failing
to prepare graduates to work in corporations.
"Business schools are on the wrong track," Warren G. Bennis and James
O'Toole, professors at the University of Southern California, conclude
in this month's Harvard Business Review.
"During the past several decades, many leading B schools have quietly
adopted an inappropriate - and ultimately self-defeating - model of
academic excellence," they write.
"Instead of measuring themselves in terms of the competence of their
graduates, or by how well their faculties understand important drivers
of business performance, they measure themselves almost solely by the
rigor of their scientific research."
Business schools have gone that route in part to make sure they are
seen as more than trade schools, the authors say, but also because
they seem to suffer from "physics envy," and are bent on demonstrating
that the study of business can be as disciplined and quantitative as
the science of black holes, quarks and leptons.
That decision feeds on itself, the authors write. Professors trained
in quantitative research hire faculty members with the same
inclination and make being published in technical journals a condition
for continued employment.
"Today it is possible to find tenured professors of management who
have never set foot inside a real business, except as customers," they
"By allowing the scientific research model to drive out all others,
business schools are institutionalizing their own irrelevance," Mr.
Bennis and Mr. O'Toole contend, adding that the concerns of the real
world must - to some degree - find their way into the classroom.
"Going back to the trade school paradigm would be a disaster," they
write. "Still, we believe it is necessary to strike a new balance
between scientific rigor and practical relevance."
Of course, many of the executives - especially chief financial
officers - enmeshed in the current corporate scandals are business
But ignoring the fact that some financial wizards have recently cooked
the books with a creativity that would put Emeril Lagasse and Mario
Batali to shame, the authors of "Not Your Father's C.F.O." concentrate
on the good that chief financial officers can accomplish.
In their article in strategy+business, a management magazine published
by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, three Booz Allen vice
presidents contend, after interviewing the top financial executives at
Pfizer, FedEx and Procter & Gamble, that the role of the
C.F.O. has changed drastically - for the better.
"The classic model - the C.F.O. as chief accountant and technical
expert focused narrowly on the firm's financial statements and capital
structure - has been passé for a decade or more," wrote the authors,
Vinay Couto, Irmgard Heinz and Mark J. Moran. "The C.F.O. has long
since operated as more of a business partner with the C.E.O., closely
involved in designing and overseeing strategy, operations and
The authors say the pace of the evolution has accelerated. Many
companies are eliminating the position of chief operating officer,
whose duties are then assigned to the C.F.O.
But the best of the bunch, the authors contend, will go beyond simply
picking up the slack.
They will help their companies adhere to stricter financial reporting
standards - regulations often imposed in light of sins committed by
top financial executives - and the pressures caused by increasing
globalization and technology changes.
Indeed, the authors argue, these executives have no choice but to do
more. And will do so, presumably, without manipulating the numbers.
Final Take In the current (April/May/June) issue of Inventors' Digest,
Paul Niemann asks, "Is Irony the Step-Monster of Innovation?"
He points out that Mickey Mouse's creator, Walt Disney, was afraid of
mice; that the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel, established the
Nobel Peace Prize; and that Rube Goldberg, whose name is synonymous
with inventions, at least cartoon ones, never invented anything at
More information about the paleopsych