"There are only two ways of telling the complete truth—anonymously and posthumously."Thomas Sowell

Monday, January 23, 2006

MBA's as a Force for the Suck?

Occasional commenter ChETHB raised another interesting point in the discussion about the trouble with GM:

I have been thinking more about the decline of the American automobile industry and have come up with one more tidbit to throw out - the rise of MBA's in American industry. This started in the mid-60's and it has been my personal observation that decision-making in technically oriented businesses has suffered as managers/executives with technical degrees have been replaced by executives holding MBA degrees. Could something this simple have started the downfall of GM?

I found this statement provocative. My own corporate experience suggested that the really valuable people are those who know how to do things. Meanwhile, there were a lot of MBA's (and in my case, an MPA) running around not adding a lot of value. If I had been in charge, I would have fired me, a bunch of MBA types, and all of the Andersen "change" consultants.

What thinkest thou, fair readers and fellow contributors? Is the rise of the MBA a good thing?


Devang said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the average age of a GM employee was between 55-60. The rise of managers having worked at GM for 25+ years with bloated salaries not adding value is the culprit here. GM is a huge beaurcracy. You do say mid-60's... it could be true.

Cars being good on the drawing board, and at autoshows, but being overweight, underfeatured, and overpriced in reality, sounds like an MBA.

www.autoextremist.com always has good stuff on wednesdays about the car industry.

Tlaloc said...

The company I work for has a long history of being led by an engineer. From it's founding it was always an engineer in the top position. Until now. Now we have our first business school graduate leading the company.

The buildings haven't blown up. The product still gets made. But things do a bit more... tedious. Seems like more management fads come down the pipe to make our lives hell for the three months until everybody forgets them. And the company as a whole seems more flighty. We've made big changes recently on the advice of consultants that for the life of me I can see no good in. Maybe I don't have enough of the whole picture to see how they make sense. But if I don't then I can't imagine how our customers will.

Anonymous said...

as a recent MBA I would say that too many of us are a bad thing for a company. MBAs are taught to manage, not necessarily to build or grow companies.

Only one of the courses I took in my program was directly targeted at forcing people to decide and clearly define what actions they would take to confront problems and issues. The rest of the courses were satisfied with generalities: planning, defining, and organizing.

Stratgic thought was taught; not strategic implementation.

That is not to say I didnt enjoy or value my MBA... I just recognise that we MBA types are often full of horse dung.