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The gold standard of the MBA

Written by on 10 September 2010

The MBA (Master of Business Administration) has been the gold standard for professional business management. The program has become the focus of many international business schools with a lucrative income being generated by fee-paying postgraduate students, motivated by personal and professional development.

What’s in an MBA?

Although many MBA’s vary from course to course the main focus has always been on general business management, developing the individual executives understanding of accounts, HRM (Human Resource Management), business law, organisational structures and business strategy. These courses provide valuable technical education and often provide an excellent opportunity for sharing best practice (this is often delivered through case studies and individual presentations). The time spent studying either part time or full time can prove to be a valuable opportunity for the individual to critically reflect on their own professional practice and bring fresh thinking into their own organisation.

Limitations of the MBA

The fast-moving nature of business practice means that much of what is taught on the MBA program dates very quickly. Individuals must understand that it is the ability to develop an inquisitive and questioning mind that has the most value, and not the information itself.

Various business schools have developed analytical techniques that have become standard business practices (such as SWOT, PETSEL and Boston 4 x 4’s) many of which have become inadequate in the current business environment.

The MBA’s association with the military

What is not well know is that the first MBA program was developed in the US and focused on military procurement. In 1945, the MBA was redesigned to provide professional development for the business executives. This was introduced into the UK in 1950s and many of the initial MBA programs grew out of military educational institutions and borrowed heavily from the experiences of the previous two World Wars.

The requirements of the military to equip and organise large-scale human resources has now become valuable for the emerging reconstruction requirements of the commercial world.

Beyond reconstruction

The world has increasingly globalised business-networked capability. Initially, companies evolve real-time international business presence. Often, these organisations had limited time-zone and cultural differentials, but now these companies have grown into truly global companies with vast networked and complex internal cultural, language and time zone differentials that need to be effectively managed and organised to deliver optimised business performance.

After the MBA

The increased pressure on globalised business has led to new questions being asked of the business executive. MBA programs are now beginning to address the ambiguity of the emerging context. It is not the complexity of the context, but rather, the changing form of organisational structures and the requirements of the individuals who occupy these new organisational forms that present the biggest challenges to the international leader of the future.

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