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Research on the Impact of Management Education

Posted By Karen Morrison, Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013

Karen Morrison

First, allow me to introduce myself—my name is Karen Morrison and I’m a second-year undergraduate student at the College of William and Mary with a double major in Process Management & Consulting and Anthropology. As part of my summer internship here at GBSN, I have been reviewing the available research on the impact of management education, a question that hits the heart of what we do.

What research is available?

The short answer is that there is no single study that points to the individual and social impacts of higher education in general, much less management education in particular. Up until now, the best research has focused on laying the groundwork for more systematic studies.

What are the general findings so far?

Most, if not all, studies also seem to be in agreement that MBA programs are especially good at imparting value to their graduates, whether value is defined as relevant knowledge and skills, employability, higher job satisfaction, higher income, or any of a number of other ways. There is less research on how or if MBA programs produce social value in any way besides increasing the value of the human capital in the workforce in that area.

Which methodologies seem to show the most promise for future research?

The question of the impact of management education is crying out for a longitudinal study that tracks MBA students versus a matched control group. However, such a longitudinal study may not be feasible. The few econometric studies that exist show a great deal of promise for broader application. A prime example is Gyimah-Brempong et al.’s (2006) study, which rigorously applies econometric analysis to the relationship between higher education and the growth rate of per capita income in Africa. This methodology could be applied to management education specifically and tested in regions outside Africa.

Where will GBSN go from here?

Our next step is gathering more information. If you know of any studies related to the impact of management education that you would like to pass on, please contact me at or Nora Brown at We are also interested in any alumni tracking surveys that individual institutions may have.

In the meantime, here are some of the most interesting studies I’ve found so far.

Higher Education and Social Change –John Brennan (2008)

This study has a great framework for future research to be conducted in:

  1. Changing social contexts
  2. The implications for higher education of these changing social constructs
  3. The mechanisms of interaction between higher education and society
  4. Higher education’s impact on society

Measuring Value in MBA Programs—Cengiz Haksever, Yuki Muragishi (1998)

This is one study to read in full, both for the methodology and the interesting results.

  1. Measures the efficiency of value-adding process in MBA programs, comparing the top 40 programs
  2. States that MBA programs are among the most efficient of higher education programs (unsupported in this study)
  3. Finds that in terms of efficiency, Businessweek’s top 20 MBA programs are comparable to programs ranked 20-40

Effects of an MBA and Socioeconomic Origins on Business School Graduates’ Salaries—Jeffrey Pfeffer (1977)

The authors conjecture that part of the value of MBA programs is how they mitigate the tendency of socioeconomic origins to restrict eventual earnings

  1. Looks at the alumni of a single large, prestigious university
  2. Finds significant effect of MBA on starting but not current salary
  3. Finds significant effect of student’s socioeconomic background on current salary but not starting salary.
    1. This effect was lessened for the MBA grads

Higher Education and Economic Growth in Africa—Kwabena Gyimah-Brempong, Oliver Paddison, Workie Mitiku (2006)

Uses panel data over the 1960–2000 period, a modified neoclassical growth equation, and a dynamic panel estimator to investigate the effect of higher education human capital on economic growth in African countries.

  1. Finds that all levels of education human capital, including higher education human capital, have positive and statistically significant effect on the growth rate of per capita income in African counties.
  2. Estimates the growth elasticity of higher education human capital to be about 0.09, an estimate that is twice as large as the growth impact of physical capital investment.

Tags:  Management Education 

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