Speaking in Barcelona and Oxford

Last week, I travelled to Barcelona to address a group of b-school admissions officers gathered by GMAC, the testing organization. My topic was: Why Business Should be Taught More Like an Art and Less Like a Science

The gist is that business schools would attract a far broader range of applicants if they didn’t present their subject as an outgrowth of economics, and more as one based on creative/psychological/behavioral studies. Of course, the core subjects like finance have to be taught, but it’s a question of emphasis. If you present it as heavily quantitative/scientific, you get quants/scientists/engineers. When the truth is business probably 50-50 art-science.

One thing several of the admissions officers said was, yes, fine, we agree, but what subject would you drop? I said it was about emphasis. Imagine you were crafting a business education today, from scratch. What would you regard as essential. If you start from the position that we have x number of accounting professors and x strategy professors and they must be employed, you’ll never get any change.

Two days later, I spoke as part of a debate at the Said school. The motion was Are MBAs best positioned to lead us out of the financial crisis. I was opposing. Naturally. I believe the debate’s going to be posted on iTunes, so as soon as I get the link, I’ll put it here.

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