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Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.
10.08.2003
 fruit

You are taking fall internships? Crap. Too bad I have a job... I can be swayed however....

The following is a recent article I have been spending some time researching and writing on my blog, Downsize This. I appreciate your review.

Why Business School Prof's know nothing about business....

So, have you ever sat in a college class and listened to a Prof ramble on about something, all the while knowing in the back of your head that this can never work? Well, there is a reason for that. The reason is fundamental and goes all the way back to the admission practices of Top University Business PhD programs.

The PhD by its very nature is a research degree. This is good and bad. Research is very applicable in scientific fields. Fields where experiments can be done in a controlled environment and the results recorded, repeated, recorded, and so on, until regularity can be established. For degrees in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, etc., this makes perfect sense. Business, however, is totally different. Business is the science of people, culture, trends, economics, and politics, and changes everyday. What worked in 1999 certainly does not work today in business. What worked in physics 5,000 years ago is exactly the same today. The Laws of thermodynamics are the same. Science and Business are completely different schools of thought, the research and PhD degree programs, however, are approached in the same ways.

So what does this mean? What it means is you have professors teaching in business schools based on their research, not experience. Just take a look at the Business School Faculty Page of Stanford University, certainly one of the world's most prestigious business schools. One thing to note, for professors that are teaching BUSINESS, there is no mention of any work experience for any of their professors! If this does not bother you, it should. PhDs telling people how to run a business, that have never worked in one.... Hmmmm..... "Do as I say, don't do as I do." I mean look at this woman. Are you bloody kidding me?! Her research interests are listed as:

Culture and persuasion (e.g., understanding the dynamic role of culture and its impact on attitudes), self-expression (e.g., identifying dimensions of brand personality and exploring how brands are used for self-expressive reasons) and emotional experience(e.g., examining the creation and impact of emotional experience).

Gimme a break... Oh but she has a lot of papers published. Is that what it takes to educate a Manager or Entrepreneur on the in's and out's of successfully running a business?

The problem with the Business Professors starts with the Business Schools' methodologies for recruiting, admitting, and compensating PhD candidates. Let's start with recruiting. There are virtually no part-time PhD programs. Certainly none at any respected University. PhD programs recruit only at other Universities. They want to bring students on board, not business people. Staying with Stanford as an example, here is a complete list of their recruiting locations in 2003:

George Washington University
Atlanta Universities Center
Emory University
Princeton University
Harvard Business School
5 Colleges, Amherst College
University of Illinois

Notice anything funny here? They are all colleges, and gee, look at the list... Emory, Princeton, Harvard, Kellogg (Univ. of Ill). Gee, all Top Tier Business Schools. I do not want some Princeton blow hole with an MA in English telling me how to direct corporate strategy.

Admissions follows the same philosophy. Admission is weighed heavily on GPA and test scores. Stanford's Admission page for PhD Students measure many applicant statistics, but does not measure work experience. Again, proof they are recruiting professional students trained in theory, but not practice.

Finally is compensation. Stipends for PhDs typically average around $20k per year. Good luck getting a top notch successful business person to leave his career and teach his success to others for a $100k per year pay cut. Many PhD students provide valuable research and teaching duties to their respective Universities, and this pay amount is very humiliating to a business professional. To professional students used to living off of student loans, free tuition plus 20 grand seems like hitting the jackpot. Therefore its easy to see who is running into these programs. In America, success in business means having a good income. It logically follows that Business PhD programs must not want to recruit people that are successful in business.

PhDs and MBAs are completely different degrees. PhDs are based on research, and are typically pursued by students who have never had any real work experience. MBA's are based on case study, practical application, and are pursued by business professionals looking to advance their careers. The problem is, these MBAs are taught by the PhDs who a) have no relevant work experience to refer to in their teaching and b) are teaching a degree program that they have never went through themselves (most of the time. Some PhDs do indeed also have MBAs).

The result: MBAs that learn and apply business philosophies and ideologies that seem great on paper, but may have no real-world practical application. These philosophies are taught my Business PhDs that can not relate to their students. A lot of Business PhDs still think that Communism makes the most sense. Need I say more? And Miss Aaker and her "identifying dimensions of brand personality" reeks of jargon-fueled research that sounds impressive but isn't functional in practical application. PhDs are granted their degrees when other PhDs with equally non-existent work experience determine their research has simply followed scientific methodology.

How to fix it: offer part-time PhD programs in Business. And even before that, recognize that Business PhDs are different from Science PhDs. Business PhD research can be drawn from real-world experience from someone who maintains a job while pursuing the degree. Do that and the compensation issues goes away. I would get my PhD today if I could do it part time. Do you really expect me to give up a six figure income for $20k a year?! Are you nuts?! And that is too bad, because I would make a good professor. Why? Because I have been there. I have seen what works, and what doesn't. I have created strategies, and put them into practice. I don't have a 4.0 undergrad GPA, I did not get a 750 on my GMAT, but I have been in the trenches like so many other business professionals that are refused the chance at a PhD simply because we are unable to go to class full-time.

Get off your ridiculous, arrogant high horse that "The PhD program is intellectually rigorous and requires full-time attention." Refocus that attention from books and interviews to the office. Recruit successful leaders. Get some credibility for cryin out loud. I don't care how many degrees you have from Yale, or how many languages you speak, if you have never led in the business community, do not tell me how to lead it.

who / what / why

At Play we create brands, strategies, new products, and better cultures for Fortune 100 companies. Our formula for creativity: "Look at more stuff. Think about it harder." Pure Content is one place where we do that, daily.

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