This month's Atlantic Monthly features an article called "The Management Myth" (paid subscription required), by Matthew Stewart, the founder of a management consulting firm. (It should be noted that the Atlantic is owned by David Bradley, who also previously founded a management consulting firm.)
In the article, Stewart asserts the following:
"As a principal and founding partner of a consulting firm that eventually grew to 600 employees, I interviewed, hired, and worked alongside hundreds of business-school graduates, and the impression I formed of the M.B.A. experience was that it involved taking two years out of your life and going deeply into debt, all for the sake of learning how to keep a straight face while using phrases like 'out-of-the-box thinking,' 'win-win situation,' and 'core competencies.' When it came to picking teammates, I generally held out higher hopes for those individuals who had used their university years to learn about something other than business administration."
While this statement may shock readers of the Atlantic, I suspect most entrepreneurs have grappled with the question "Are MBAs useless or worse than useless?" for some time. The dim view that company builders take with regard to MBAs contrasts sharply with the view taken by corporate leaders, many of whom have MBAs themselves, and many of whom still recruit MBAs in large numbers to join their companies. (Let me take this moment to disclose that some of my best friends are MBAs.)
Some entrepreneurs, of course, have MBAs and believe they have real value. (Check out this 1997 article from Inc.)
So what do you think? What did you study in college and what subject did you find to be the most valuable in your entrepreneurial life, and why? Do you have an MBA? Do you want one? And how valuable do you think formal business training is in today's environment?
Last updated: May 4, 2006
MIKE HOFMAN was previously editor of Inc.com and a deputy editor at Inc. magazine, which he joined in 1996. The site was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in 2010, and was named the best business website by Folio Magazine. In 2006, Hofman was part of a team of writers nominated for a Webby Award for best business blog. He lives in New York City. @mikehofman