This post on the future of the Master of Business Administration has provoked some debate, especially about a group of Linkedins. Many interesting considerations have emerged (some decidedly provocative), which seem to me to deserve an articulated response (and a further place of discussion).

I will try to summarise a few opinions and then add a few notes of my own.

Opinions:

The “administrative” approach of MBAs has resulted in managers with a short-term vision, who do not have (or do not want to have) the ability to build value in the long term.

Business schools have often sacrificed quality (in content and candidate selection) to the profit generated by MBAs.

In Italy, the MBA diploma is often more an obstacle to a career than a springboard, given that there is no clear perception of what an MBA can offer and what kind of value the company can derive from it.

There is no structural link between the world of business and business schools to create courses that truly serve young managers and companies.

We should follow the indications that come to us from overseas and reshap our MBAs on the meta-competences and soft skills that in the future, especially for us Europeans, will make the difference between growth and slow decline.

You should open a discussion on the real mechanisms of career advancement (maybe we talk about it on this blog). Career planning and networking are two preconditions for dealing productively with an MBA. Often those who sign up for an MBA do so with the simplistic attitude of those who think of buying a ticket for their career. Complexity requires much more, and those who persistently want to simplify phenomena cannot be successful.

My thought (which in many ways follows what has already been said):

The lack of manager skills that I often encounter has nothing to do with content, but rather with meta-components (let us call them âstructuresâ).

For this reason, I agree with those who say that soft skills should weigh heavily in an MBA path, as should those disciplines that allow us to acquire the keys to understanding complexity.

Moreover, I believe that this has more to do with the qualifications of the subjects being taught than with the teaching method. Even in organizational behavior or personal development you can reason about contents (I call them “recipes”) or “structures” (I call it “strategic vision”).

In the first case, hypersimplification is a direct consequence.

The risk for those who think in terms of structures is to provide maps that are too complex to allow knowledge to be transformed into a tool for action. The real added value that a teacher can bring, beyond the models adopted and the schools of reference, is based on this balance.