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Über dieses Buch

This book examines the criticism that modern business schools face and how these obstacles have evolved throughout history. Through historical, resource, and professional school contexts, it sheds light on the operating environment of the business school and the challenges endemic to various university-based professional schools, exploring the likelihood that potential interventions will result in success or failure.
Business schools are often accused of inhibiting the practice of business by producing research that is irrelevant and does not address real concerns facing managers. This book investigates these accusations by outlining the historical values on which academic institutions are based, the resources and funding available today, and comparisons to other professional schools which undergo a similar level of scrutiny. This extensive coverage will help academics, administrators, faculty, and policy makers with the tools to understand better the ill-will towards business schools in today’s university structure, and ultimately to deliver on the benefits they provide to stakeholders.



Chapter 1. Introduction

In recent decades, numerous criticisms of university-based business schools have surfaced, including voices from both within and beyond the business school. For example, one oft-repeated theme is that business schools produce volumes of research that practitioners ignore as irrelevant to the practice of business. Interestingly, few of these criticisms are actually new. Some have been articulated concerning higher education going back for centuries. To understand fully the root causes of these concerns, the university-based business school must be considered in light of its greater context within the university.
Edward W. Miles

The University


Chapter 2. Higher Education from Antiquity to the Medieval University

This chapter traces the origins of higher education and comments on elements relevant specifically to the current-day business school. The modern-day university primarily has its roots in Europe. The medieval university evolved out of the Catholic cathedral schools, and universities flourished first in Paris and Bologna. Numerous customs in universities today have their roots in the medieval university. Funding and sponsorship of the medieval university came from the state and the church. As a quid pro quo, the university was expected to educate professionals for both benefactors—the administrators needed by the state and the clerics needed by the church. The standard form of a complete university came to be a Faculty of Arts and three “superior faculties” of Theology, Law, and Medicine. This format foreshadows the twenty-first century university that is called upon to train professionals desired by various current-day benefactors.
Edward W. Miles

Chapter 3. Medieval Craft Guilds Died Out in Business, but They Are Alive and Thriving in Business Schools

The medieval university flourished at the time that craft guilds were quite influential, and the early university clearly was influenced by the guild system. That influence remains quite evident today. For example, Ph.D. students are the parallel to craft guild apprentices, untenured assistant professors are the parallel to the journeymen, and tenured faculty members are the parallel to the masters. However, craft guilds were monopolies, and monopolies have to be controlled if they are to serve the public good. In the guild system, this control had two parts. First, the local municipality approved the guild’s monopoly, and the approval was at risk of being revoked. Second, each guild kept tight control on its members. This guild monopoly has important implications today in the university in general and in the business school specifically.
Edward W. Miles

Chapter 4. Critical Juncture I: The Pseudo-Humboldtian Influence

The medieval university valued truth and knowledge, but it was viewed as a philosophical domain, not a domain based in the physical world. Therefore, science had no role in the medieval university. With the organization of the University of Berlin in 1810, Wilhelm von Humboldt realized that science was going to become quite important (e.g., the Industrial Revolution), and he wanted science to be prominent in the university. He envisioned a university as a community of scholars who were focused on discovery for the sake of advancing knowledge. The community of scholars would engage in broad interaction across disciplines in order to advance knowledge through cross-fertilization of ideas. However, a key part of Humboldt’s vision that did not occur was the broad interaction across disciplines.
Edward W. Miles

Chapter 5. The Purpose of the University

The university—with more than an 800-year history—has taken on many purposes on behalf of many external stakeholders. These purposes have accumulated over different points in time for the benefit of different stakeholders. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that these purposes—having been “grafted” together—are, at best, non-synergistic, and at worst, conflicting (e.g., research versus teaching, fielding a competitive football team versus academic integrity). Business schools operate on that same principle. They have various stakeholders and are pliable in taking on non-synergistic purposes requested by stakeholders and benefactors.
Edward W. Miles

Chapter 6. Critical Juncture II: Mass Education and the Demise of the Humboldtian University: The Great Paradox—University in Ruin Caused by Its Own Success

In the past 100 years, the university has accepted another purpose: vocational training. Consistent with Humboldt, Abraham Flexner, trained at the University of Berlin, insisted that the university was no place for vocational training. However, the university—as has often occurred in its long history—has morphed into something new by accepting a purpose on behalf of external stakeholders. Since 1960, there has been a dramatic increase in university enrollments, and that increase has come from students who see the university as providing vocational training. The university has moved from “elite higher education” to “mass higher education.” The intellectual descendants of Humboldt and Flexner assert that the modern-day university is in “ruin” because it has compromised its role to engage in vocational training.
Edward W. Miles

Chapter 7. Prestige and Prestige-Seeking in Universities

Some universities have prestige. Many more aspire to have prestige. However, prestigious schools generally have huge endowments. It is difficult for schools with minimal endowments to compete with those who have $30 billion. Therefore, three general strategies are common to achieve prestige among those aspirants. First, schools can increase their number of students, thereby increasing funds from tuition and—for state supported schools—state allocations. Second, schools can build revenues by securing government grants. However, about 90 % of government grants go to medicine, science, and engineering. Business schools are not positioned to compete for many grants unless they can link to these disciplines. A third general strategy is to build prestige through high-profile athletic teams. Business schools engage in some activities that seem strikingly like athletic department strategies.
Edward W. Miles

The Business School


Chapter 8. Critical Juncture III: The 1959 Foundation Reports—Throwing Out the Baby with the Bath Water?

In 1959, independent reports were released by the Carnegie Foundation and the Ford Foundation evaluating business schools in the USA. Both reports were scathing in their criticisms of the status quo. There was a glaring lack of scholarship and research on the part of business school faculty. Academic rigor in undergraduate business programs lagged behind other university degree programs. Less than half of business school faculty members held earned doctorates.
University administrators were embarrassed by these reports, and they moved to correct the problems. Rigor was increased in academic programs. New doctoral-qualified faculty members with both training and interest in research were hired. However, these new faculty members were no longer hired based on business experience; they were hired based on their ability to participate in newly-developing academic guilds, not business guilds.
Edward W. Miles

Chapter 9. Prestige-Seeking by Business Schools

The nature of prestige-seeking is that it is competitive. A business school must move ahead of competitors if it is to increase its prestige. Therefore, although academics have general disdain for rankings published by BusinessWeek and many others, the needs of prestige-seeking are such a perfect match to competitive rankings that business schools are co-opted into participating in the ratings game.
In addition to program rankings, professors and programs seek prestige within the academy. Unfortunately, business school deans are in a dilemma. They must hire research faculty. However, business schools have multiple stakeholders with multiple expectations. A faculty hired based on the single criterion of research ability is not configured ideally for helping the dean satisfy the full scope of those multiple stakeholders.
Edward W. Miles

Chapter 10. Credentialing: Safe for Another 800 Years?

Credentialing has been important since the medieval university. A credible university’s graduates bore approval of edicts by the Pope or the King. Because the university’s purposes now include vocational training, students want a credential which trumpets their legitimacy in their chosen vocation.
Is the university’s role as provider of credentials secure? There are two potential concerns. First, prestige-seeking universities are using funds to build their research reputations; one way of viewing this situation is that student tuition and fees are subsidizing research. Could an interloper in the academy offer an equal credential without subsidizing research? The second threat is from within the academy. The lure of money needed to build prestige may cause universities to compromise the value of its credentials (e.g., the 11-month MBA) in order to obtain more resources.
Edward W. Miles

The Business School Among the Professional Schools of the University


Chapter 11. Professions, University-Based Professional Schools, and Business as a Profession

A university often includes many professional schools. Most of the criticisms of business schools are not unique; some are actually criticisms that apply to many or all university-based professional schools. Therefore, comparing the business school to these other professional schools will help to sort out which concerns are unique to business schools. An important starting point is the question: What is a profession? This chapter describes the characteristics of a profession and compares the business school to that list. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the rationale for the inclusion of professional schools in the university—especially schools for professions that do not hold all of these characteristics.
Edward W. Miles

Chapter 12. Professional Schools Displace Practice-Based Training

Before there were pharmacy schools, the dispensing of drugs was practiced. Before the existence of journalism schools, there were journalists. New entrants to a profession gained their training in a practice-based format much like the craft guilds, working with a member of the profession. This chapter discusses what motivated the transition from practice-based to university-based training, what was lost by that change, and what was gained that has bearing on the current relationship between the university and its professional schools. One element that was gained was uniformity in scope and depth of training. One element that was lost for many professional schools was the clinical component—the opportunity to do the actual work of the professional under the tutelage of a member of the profession.
Edward W. Miles

Chapter 13. Lessons from University-Based Journalism Schools and Law Schools

The angst of critics bemoaning the state of the business school is quite palpable. However, that angst is not unique. It is present in writings about many professional schools. This chapter selects two representative schools, journalism and law, for comparison.
Journalism schools and law schools are alleged to suffer from many of the same maladies as business schools. Research is irrelevant to practice; coursework does not focus on what is needed in the profession; many courses are taught by people who have not practiced the profession. However, compared to them, business schools are more insulated from critics in their respective profession because those critics (1) are less organized as a profession and (2) have less opportunity to promote their opinions in media that cannot be ignored.
Edward W. Miles

Chapter 14. Lessons from University-Based Medical Schools

The 1959 Ford Foundation and Carnegie Foundation reports on business schools had a strikingly similar parallel in medical schools. In 1910, the same Carnegie Foundation released a scathing report on medical schools in the USA and Canada. By 1920, 45 % of the medical schools existing in 1910 had disappeared. The way university-based medical schools responded to this watershed event provides lessons for twenty-first century business schools.
The medical school has a business model that depends heavily on research grants. For example, in FY 2013, Johns Hopkins University received over $500 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health. As business schools look to increase funded research, lessons regarding the opportunities and the obligations of funded research would be better for business schools to learn vicariously than through trial-and-error.
Edward W. Miles

Looking Forward


Chapter 15. Critical Juncture IV: The State’s Reduction in Munificence

In the year 2010, 4-year public institutions of higher education in the USA had a noteworthy inversion in revenues. This was the first year in which public universities gained a greater amount of their operating revenues from student tuition and fees than from state allocations. In 1980, US public degree-granting institutions derived 44 % of their budget from state allocations. By 2010, that percentage had plummeted to 20 %. As budgets decline, universities and business schools intent on maintaining or increasing their prestige are often engaging in what has become known as “academic entrepreneurialism”—activities that generate income. For example, business schools are investing in online MBA programs to fund other ventures. Academic entrepreneurialism runs a considerable risk of compromising academic integrity.
Edward W. Miles

Chapter 16. Another Paradox: The Business School in Ruins

Similar to the critics who see a “university in ruins,” critics of the business school see a “business school in ruins.” This is not to say that the business school is about to disappear; parallel to the university, the business school continues to enroll increasing numbers of students. However, the purposes pursued by the business school are not those desired by the critics; that is why they see an institution in ruins. Critics see concerns; yet the status quo has changed very little. This final chapter concludes with a discussion of potential threats to the status quo which could cause change in the university-based business school.
Edward W. Miles


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