Business schools, the capacity of students, business situations

How can business schools strengthen the capacity of students for precise but imaginative reasoning about business situations? The answer, briefly put, would seem to be to give them certain essential tools and knowledge of subject matter which can then be applied to a variety of business issues and problems. Both these aspects of the students' development need to be carried forward together, but preparation in the foundation subjects should be emphasized in the undergraduate years while application of such knowledge to specific business problems should be emphasized at the graduate level. The special province of business schools at both levels of study, however, is to serve as a bridge between these two phases of the students' growth.

The need for persons in business with technical competence in at least one significant area plus a capacity for grasping the broader implications of problems poses a difficult issue for business schools, especially at the undergraduate level. If the schools stress the kind of general preparation associated with executive responsibility, they are accused of preparing students for positions their students will never attain; if they stress specific job preparation, they are accused of providing narrow vocational training.

The view suggested here is that there is a wide range of jobs, both in and out of the managerial ranks, for which a broad type of education with very limited specialized training seems altogether appropriate. Simply because a school adopts this approach does not mean that it aims to prepare large numbers of students for top executive positions. Rather it means that essentially the same kind of education appears to be appropriate for a wide range of jobs and careers. This conception of the role of business schools has come to be associated with a management or managerial decision-making emphasis, and this terminology is accordingly used in the present study. This way of characterizing the work of business schools, however, should not be interpreted as meaning that all programs should be aimed exclusively at top-management or even uppermanagement positions.

No comments: