GravyTraining Gravy Training: Inside the Business of Business Schools
by Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove.
Jossey-Bass, 1999, 315 pages, $25.

With $250 billion spent each year on executive development, business schools should be scrutinized the way other big businesses are -- and they are not measuring up, write authors Crainer and Dearlove, both business writers and the founders of a media consulting firm.

Creating Dehumanized Managers

For example, one of the key goals of any business school should be to "develop well-rounded managers with both hard-side and soft-side skills." But Crainer and Dearlove maintain that business schools have produced process-obsessed, "dehumanized" managers (when most businesses are moving toward integration of management approaches). According to the authors, business schools have actually decreased the respect for management as a profession by not being consistent, and have therefore lent credibility to trendy management fads.

Drawing on the insights of Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline; management guru Peter Drucker; and, ironically, what they call "the best business school thinking," the authors provide a detailed prescription for business school change. A sampling:

  • Supplement case studies. "MBA graduates learn to solve case studies rather than manage real people. Real life is not a case study."
  • "Fire faculty -- then rehire them." There is not enough pressure to perform in the faculty system, the authors say, implying a decrease in quality. Members should be fired, then hired again as freelancers.
  • Get practicing professionals, including executives and alumni, to participate in teaching.
  • Learn management skills from nonprofit organizations and other disciplines besides business.

Why Change?

What motivation would a seemingly untouchable institution have to change? Like most other businesses, competition. "Consumers" are pitting business schools against other educational institutions and consulting firms. The authors maintain that if they don't reexamine their core competencies and make appropriate changes, they will fail like any other business.

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