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May 29, 2009


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Jon Husband

Here come those damned Canadians again !

Henry Mintzberg, Professor Emeritus at McGill University in Montreal, on the traditional MBA (I'm thinking he'd like to call it MBS):

The MBA Menace (Fast Company, Dec. 2007)

Dear new MBA:

Congratulations! You have a sparkling new degree, highly prized in this world. You have learned a great many things about business. You have invested two years of your life, not to mention lost wages and a small fortune in tuition, in this impressive undertaking. As a result, you are fully qualified to go out and become a menace to society.

Granted, this isn't fully the fault of your school. Nothing personal, but full-time MBA programs by their nature attract many of the wrong people--too impatient and analytical, with little experience in management itself. These may be fine traits for students, but they can be tragically ill-suited for managers.

Conventional MBA programs then compound the error by giving the wrong impression of management: that managers are important people disconnected from the daily work of making products and producing services; that managing is largely about decision making through analysis; that managers pronounce deliberate strategies for everyone else to implement; and worst of all, that by sitting still in a classroom for a couple of years, you are now ready to manage anything.

Phil Cubeta

What a fine letter. Still, the jobs are there, and the Excel, will be provided.

tom matrullo

"Important...disconnected" - in that compressed statement is contained the governing mythos of many things.

Jon Husband

n that compressed statement is contained the governing mythos of many things.

Bingo !

Phil Cubeta

The same skill set that enables an MBA to run Lehman Brothers into the ground enables him or her to run GM into the ground. It is a meta-level knowledge unknown to the worker bees. The skill enables juicing short term results, triggering options, and leaving with a golden parachute. As Greenspan noted, the theory seems to have a flaw in it somewhere. They will get back to us when they have fixed it, I am sure.

tom matrullo

Odd. This strange woman insists journalists are part of the working class.

Jon Husband

Do not consider it a certificate promising some sort of entitlement. Consider it a license to fight.

Sure. It's clear she won't be lunching with any of the Villagers or speaking at a business school any time soon.

Phil Cubeta

What an article, thank you TM. I was thinking as I read it about college professors too, particularly the gyspy scholars. They are working class now too, "casual employment" as $2,000 per course. The real high paid expertise is the manager who gets others, better educated than he, to work for subsistance wages. Yet how docile are these intellectuals. The working class might look to them for leadership, but the intellectuals consider themselves a world apart. And for the intellectual the workers have nothing but contempt.

tom matrullo

So long as they can get their free JSTOR perks, they're happy campers. If they actually thought that thought mattered, they might wonder why their bureaucratic environments are all pretty much the same, and have been for the past few generations. They might investigate how it is that no one in USia gives a flying frog about their ideas, their accumulated gnosis, their insights into history, art, pop culture, learning, business, science, or the future. How it is they have become innocuous denizens of Utopia without even getting on or off a bus.

Phil Cubeta

Academics, Tom, are poor and exploited, sure, but truth is that they/we have Class. http://tinyurl.com/qkhgys. Not for us the crass and garish ways of the MBA. We disdain our Masters, though we truckle all the same.

tom matrullo

And the Movers and Shakescenes of the Great World allow us our small comforts while they devour whole hogsheads with insider glee. The link seems broken, alas.

Phil Cubeta

The link was to a book, Class, by Paul Fussil. He is disdainful of low class rich MBA types and applauds the low rent high brow tastes of what appear to be Princeton and Yale educated academics. In other words, we highly educated humanities types have true class, the rich have crass class. That is the reverse snobbery that I am very familiar with, and you must be as well. Too high class to mess with money. Filthy lucre. "Mucky pelf," as Bart Giammatti called it, instancing Mammon's Cave. We the educated liberal arts graduates do not soil our hands with fat paychecks. We actually prefer our poverty as a badge of not having sold out, etc.

tom matrullo

Ah yes, Mr. Fussell, author of a book I very much admired when young: Poetic Meter and Poetic Form.

Who then went on to produce Class, as well as

Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic

Thank God for the Atom Bomb

and similar testimonials to being somehow traumatized by war and never quite recovering. A semiotician machine-tooled to miss the forest for the signs.

Phil Cubeta

Wrote on the First World War too, right? What is it to be high class? Was Elvis?


I can remember the patrician John Lindsey, when he was mayor of NYC, riding the subway at rush hour, looking like a million dollars, but not looking like he planned to cash himself in. Just there, straphanging like everyone else. But if you looked at him, he looked back with a lively twinkle - enjoying the effect of recognition on a kid's face.

The young Elvis, who wouldn't have been high on the list of applicants to Harvard or JYale, had class. He'd lost it by the time the endowment vultures were flying around his aggrandized middle-aged buttock.

Class can be had by persons of any stratum; it royally disavows the rules of the NYT's matrimonial announcements. Armstrong (the musician) had class.

Phil Cubeta

Well put! Many a butler has more class than his Master. Tell that to Mistress Candidia.

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