Ineffectiveness of MBA studies – Perspective from Leadership Studies

Leadership studies have differentiated between leaders and managers arguing that leadership is what organizations require to succeed in a dynamic business environment (e.g. Cohen 16-20). Although education may help in developing an individual’s knowledge to make informed-decisions in management, some of the characteristics such as people skills that are important for effective management (e.g. noted in Charan’s list of failed CEOs), arise following the interaction that one has with such employees (Mostovicz, Kakabadse and Kakabadse 572). It is by working within an organizational context, that individuals, for instance, appreciate the full extent of principles advanced in their management classes and encounter challenges that require innovative application of such principles. On the contrary, current practice assumes that once an individual has completed an MBA program, s/he is capable of leading organizations even without undergoing an apprenticeship period as it happens in other disciplines such as law. In such a situation, the individual does not have a basis upon which to develop innovative solutions to challenges facing the organization, since ones knowledge is largely theoretical.

Leadership studies have also highlighted the fact that education may not confer the ability to motivate followers automatically. For instance, one of the leadership theories – the great man theory – argues out that leadership arises from traits that are intrinsic, that allow a leader to apply innovative solutions to challenges facing an entity (Mostovicz, Kakabadse and Kakabadse 563-565). In accordance with such a perspective, it would then be challenging to impart leadership traits through a theoretically oriented education program. The alternative theory – the developmental theory of leadership – also recognizes the importance of relevant experience in developing leadership capabilities (Mostovicz, Kakabadse and Kakabadse 563-565). For instance, the theory recognizes that prior experience helps one to achieve better future decisions by building on mistakes and successes achieved during such prior experience (Mostovicz, Kakabadse and Kakabadse 563-565). Such perspectives indicate that though education could improve one’s management knowledge, application of such knowledge in a business context is what confers the skills to overcome challenges that arise in the real business environment.

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