Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A predominance of American cases, examples and perspectives is a major shortcoming of today's MBA programs

Most of the cases, examples, laws, perspectives, and stories we study in MBA are related to the US. There is relatively less focus on rest of the world - the Middle East, Asia, Africa, South America, Australia, Russia/CIS, and Europe. In my opinion, this disproportionate focus on America is a major limitation of the top MBA programs today. While it cannot be argued that easy availability of detailed information related to the US is significantly higher compared to regions such as Africa or the Middle East, it is naive to assume that innovation is taking place only in the US, or that interesting cases exist only for US companies.

From a global perspective standpoint, it will be so much better for the students if top business schools set a mandatory 50% quota for using non-US cases, examples, laws/regulations, perspectives, etc., in their curricula. Such a limit will not only give a truly global view to MBA students, it will also teach MBA students the relevance and significance of other countries in the world.

Update [23-Nov-12]: I've also noticed that most of the cases we study are HBS cases [note that this in itself does not automatically imply that the case itself will be focused on America, although in practice that is usually the case]. While these cases are no doubt good, it would be better if a quota is also put on the proportion of HBS cases that can be used, so that students are also exposed to cases from other top schools such as LBS, Wharton, CEIBS, Stanford, Oxford, ISB, etc.

And one more thing. There is an overuse of the example of Apple in most classes, to the point of making students bored. There is no doubt that it is easy to connect with a high-profile example such as Apple, but an over-coverage of Apple leads to shrinking marginal learning [to students] coming from the repeated references to this company's moves.

Finally, whenever innovation is discussed, it is predominantly in the context of Internet, smartphones, tablets, and Web 2.0 startups. There's a world of innovation outside of IT too, folks. Let's not ignore it.

Business schools which adopt the above suggestions [either as laid out above or in modified forms] can use these quotas as a potent marketing weapon, to show to prospective and existing students [and also to rankings bodies] that they are focused on giving their students a truly global view, written by global scholars, and focused on a diverse range of industries.

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