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Can Business Schools Rebuild their Image

Posted By Vako Tamaklo, Monday, September 28, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The last few years have seen increased discourse on the sustainability of business schools in their capacity to create effective business managers for the real world market.

Although many uphold the value and strength of a business school to meet the demands of the market, others believe that business schools have devolved into redundancy, operating strictly at a theoretical level with no direct application to the real world; and still more argue that business schools do more to harm the workplace than to help it by producing hordes of 'talent' who lack any sense of ethics and are exclusively driven by the appeal of profit-maximization. These critiques, however well-founded or not, have forced the question of the viability of business schools today. The idea that the role of business schools in society may simply die out appears, well...simplistic, to say the least. More plausible is the sense that, where there is the need for it, reform and restructuring within the functioning of business schools will take place.

A 2008 article from the Harvard Business Review explores some of the negative perceptions about business schools today that some leading minds in the industry have put out. However, the article also champions using case studies as a more practical method of instruction already being employed by schools like Harvard. At the end of the day, many intellectuals believe in the tenacity, utility and value of business schools and at the same time, some acknowledge that, perhaps, there should be some added ingredients. One of these is good leadership. In a 2009 Economistarticle, Chris Bones, dean of Henley Business School distinguishes between management and leadership. Whereas management centers more around the technical and organizational contributions of a worker, leadership is more about the values that the worker employs in carrying out his or her managerial duties. Needless to say, there can be good and bad leaders, and good leaders are an essential component of effective management. But, if you concur with Bones' analysis, how then can good leadership be taught? What about developing real 'know-how' and increasing global perspectives: are these not also important facets to effective management?

Bones believes that 'business schools can help rebuild confidence in business leadership'. Can they really rebuild their image?

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