By Alessia Contu.
A professor of politics in an elite US liberal art college recently remarked to me: “I must confess my stereotype of someone working in a business school is of one who serves the one per cent.”
Noting our shared political and intellectual persuasions, she questioned: “how can you work in a business school?”
My colleague is right, of course. Business schools are not perceived as intellectual ‘hotbeds’, and even less crucibles of critical and progressive thinking.
Business schools are often portrayed as universities’ ‘cash cows’, something former minister of universities and science David Willetts acknowledged in 2013. A Chartered Association of Business Schools Report in March confirmed that business schools are big business worth more than £2.4 billion annually.
By Stephan Manning.
Many believe that elite business schools, such as Harvard in the US, London Business School in the UK, and INSEAD in France, produce the business leaders of tomorrow. And it is certainly true that the world elite – in business and politics – is typically recruited from a handful of institutions. But do elite business schools necessarily benefit economies? A close look at the latest Top 20 list of most prestigious business schools in Europe, based on QS Top Universities Rankings, makes you wonder: At first glance, it may be no surprise that London Business School and INSEAD top the list. But why is none of the Top 20 schools based in Europe’s strongest economy – Germany? Why is the entire region of Eastern Europe, despite highest GDP growth rates over the past two decades, not listed at all? And why is the third highest ranked school – Bocconi University – located in Italy, which has been facing ongoing political and economic struggles? It may be true that every ranking is biased and flawed, but you may ask myself: Do elite business schools contribute to national economic strength at all?
By Stephan Manning.
How relevant is academic research for practice? How much real-world impact can or should scholars generate? What is the value of abstract theory especially in a highly practical field such as business and management? For years, scholars and journalists have debated these questions. Examples include articles by Nick Kristof in the New York Times on the need for more #engagedacademics, and by Joshua Rothman in The New Yorker on the ‘academic nature’ of academic writing. We also debated the under-utilized potential of academia in driving social change in a previous post on the OSC blog. In fact, there is a whole sub-discipline within management research entirely dedicated to better understanding the interaction between academia and practice. But what has been the outcome of this? Is research today more relevant than in the past? Can business scholars make a difference in the world?