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An Old Question for B Schools: Research or Practice?

Posted By Robert Miller, Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dr. Robert MillerOn April 25th the Financial Times printed an article entitled Academia Strives for Relevance, which explored how business schools are prioritizing research and practical application in their programs. Read the article here.

A response from GBSN Board Member Dr. Robert Miller:

An argument as old as business schools themselves, maybe 50 years or more. The actual decision seems to revolve around: does one want the business school to be part of a university or not? If one does, well, one then supports "ivory tower research" over the "practical." Putting it in a slightly different context, if one wants the rest of the university to agree to the presence of a business school, then one must also agree that academic rigor will be equivalent to that in the rest of the university.

The reality, of course, is that B schools are, and have been for a long time, a mixture. Accounting, that most "practical" of subjects, is taught, although with much more than double entry bookkeeping. In finance classrooms, students will learn about bond and equity markets, but they'll also hear about financial theory (for better or worse!). How does one teach entrepreneurialism without being "practical." You get the idea: most schools try to address the direct needs of business (especially, of course, donors), while at the same time justifying their existence on a university campus, thus depending on the businesses to have training programs for more company-specific types of things.

In other words, the FT piece could have been written in 1950.

Tags:  Business Education 

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