Fighting Back Against the MBA Backlash: Buzzwords and Bad Behavior

Last Updated Oct 31, 2007 7:18 PM EDT

In the past few posts, we've been discussing BNET's latest feature package "What's That MBA Really Worth?" We're currently focusing on Geoffrey James' article, "Five Hard Truths About the MBA," which lists some of the top criticisms of the MBA degree path, and we're taking a closer look at the different criticisms.

#4: MBA programs propagate management fads

While this is true, we can't blame it all on the B-schools out there. Everybody loves a good buzzword, and fads are just an extension of the same thing. We'd all like to think we're on top of the next big thing.

Listening to newly minted MBAs knowingly spout off acronyms and other jargon in a meeting is undoubtedly unappetizing. Listening to anyone knowingly spout off is annoying enough. But it's also a very human tendency. Honestly, while I'm sure this applies to a lot of MBA programs, I'm just as sure that the business world itself is not immune.

Fight back against this criticism by being careful which trends you embrace. When you do decide to espouse a certain fad or trend, make sure you're well aware of both the pros and cons of the approach so you can successfully respond to criticism.

#5: The mentality inside MBA programs encourages cheating

So, this one really shocked me. Don't get me wrong: I'm sure there's plenty of cheating going on in MBA programs across the country -- just as there is in med schools, law schools, you name it.

And while the article states that MBA students cheat more often, I still think the idea that schools "encourage" cheating in any way is rather strong. That's not just possible naivety on my part -- there's also some common sense involved. No B-school wants the negative publicity that comes with an outed cheater.

Every syllabus I've received so far (admittedly only four, but still!) has explicitly addressed the repercussions of plagiarizing or otherwise cheating in the program. I can't imagine that my school is the anomaly either.

How do you counteract this criticism? Easy, don't cheat. Ever.

What do you think of these "hard truths"? Are they enough to dissuade any of you would-be students out there? What other criticisms of MBA programs are out there? And overall, do you think that an MBA is losing its clout?