In the course of my MSIS/PhD education, I’ve been exposed to a lot of organizational science (or management theory, depending upon how you want to classify the particular chunk of knowledge). I’ve read some of the seminal works that MBA students read, spent some time perusing the Harvard Business Review and other publications, et cetera.
In many cases, I’ve said to myself, “Yep, that’s true” or “Darn tootin’, that would be the way to go” or some other expression of agreement with what I’ve read.
So here’s the curious part: everywhere I’ve ever worked, there’s been MBA people around. Everywhere I’ve ever worked, there’s been people who have taken classes in project management, or people management, or both. These people presumably have read the same material I’ve been reading (one would think).
So why is it so rare to find anyone who actually practices any of it?
It’s a national joke that MBA-types tend to be pointy-haired bosses, right? It’s the entire premise of Dilbert… people who study MBA material turn out to be terrible at management.
This *can’t* be the fault of MBA programs in general. There certainly are bad MBA programs, I imagine… but even if you teach this material badly the material itself still seems to be worthwhile reading.
Is it just the case that most people who go and *get* their MBAs aren’t cut out to be managers in the first place? That there is an underlying set of characteristics of most MBA-seekers that makes them bad at the job they’re ultimately seeking? I take it for granted that many people who get MBAs are trying to up their chances at higher-paying jobs, of course, but it can’t be the case that self-interest is that tightly coupled with idiocy.
Maybe MBA programs need to focus more on cutting out the chaff? Harder grading? Better gatekeeping? Management is hard, why is it so easy to get an MBA? Do most programs focus too much on, “learn the material” and not enough on “show you can implement it in practice”?