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Managers Not MBAs

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Managers Not MBAs

A Hard Look at the Soft Practice of Managing and Management Development


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

Management schools don`t produce managers: they produce analysts and hotshots. What`s so low about higher education?

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Arrogant, greedy, impatient, inexperienced, out of touch with the real world, overpaid, overeducated and overseeing you - does that sound like an apt description of MBAs? Author Henry Mintzberg would answer with a stentorian "yes!" He marshals a powerful array of facts to support his thesis that graduate schools of business have perpetrated one of the most successful con jobs in history. They have pretended that the bright young things they send into a hungry market as MBAs are, in fact, trained professional managers with a rare grasp of management science. Management, says Mintzberg, is not a science, nor is it a profession. It is not something someone can learn to do in a business school. It is something one only learns by doing, and no one in a business school does any doing. After delivering what ought to be a fatal blow to the pretensions of MBAs and those who educate them, the author proposes a proven alternative. He is not so naive as to believe that the facts he provides will change the world. Powerful economic interests now have a real stake in the status quo. But he hopes for change and provides plenty of ammunition. getAbstract suggests this book to those with a passionate interest in business education, pro or con.


The Charges

Only three things are seriously wrong with business schools and MBA programs:

  1. They train the wrong people.
  2. They teach the wrong way.
  3. They produce the wrong results.

Business schools draw their students from a self-selecting population. Ambitious youngsters with good grades and high scores on standardized tests apply to business school. Why? They know that if they leave school with an MBA (masters degree in business administration) they'll be on the career fast track. They'll be able to fly by workplace colleagues who have spent their time working on the job and gaining experience instead of sitting in a classroom analyzing hypothetical situations.

Business schools operate on the presumption that management is a science and that an MBA grad is a professional. Management is not a science. A science involves the pursuit of knowledge. Managers do not pursue knowledge. They have a completely different function. If management is not a science, is it a profession?

The professions of law, medicine and engineering have codified modes of practice. In a profession, some things clearly work ...

About the Author

Henry Mintzberg is Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He was named Distinguished Scholar for the year 2000 by the Academy of Management and won its George R. Terry Award for writing the best book of 1995 (The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning).

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