The authors Crainer and Dearlove are unsure of their role or business schools and facing extreme competition, moreover, they are stating in the book that these schools must change dramatically if they are to continue to exist. By asking the hard questions these schools, the authors hope to point out the weak spots and highlight the possible scenarios, they provide an analysis and expose the business schools and their flaws, with a recommendations for directions that they should seize. Amusingly written, without excessive hype and the final chapter on directions for the future contains useful suggestions.
This book is a study of the way in which business schools have emerged from the the backwoods of academic world that they inhabited 20 years ago, into the enchanting global industry position they occupy today. The book is based on interviews with those who run, use, work for and despise business schools.
The main thesis is that business schools have lost their way as educators or contributors to the art of management, while continuing to run a profitable, though often inefficient business. The main beneficiaries are the alumni who are able to wave the icon of an MBA to attract large rewards, although there is little evidence that they perform as managers better than those without the label. They in turn support the business schools with contributions, thereby completing a mutually beneficial reinforcing loop.
Much of the book is taken up with exploring this symbiosis and its benefits for the schools, identifying the rewards of becoming a 'great name' and casting a sceptical eye over the activities of these 'great names', their ghost writers, and the networks that are so central a part of the benefit of attending a business school (both to the individuals and to the schools).
There is a lengthy discussion of the tension between the desire of the business schools to gain academic respectability by getting management accepted as a science, and the desire of business people for simple and instant solutions to complex and often messy human problems. One result is that business schools have tended to ignore the human side of business in favour of giving attention to the financial and strategic mechanics, which should be more susceptible to the 'scientific' approach.
In this the business schools are following the primrose path of economics, which gained tenuous acceptance as a science at the expense of abstracting so far from reality that its predictive power is minimal. Management has even less chance of becoming a 'true' science because the management art has to be practical and tied to the real world if it is to be anything - and the real world of business is the messy and unpredictable world of people.
The authors also go into some length on the fallacies of the case study method, which remains the favoured teaching method. Among the critical fallacies are:
the fallacy that there is a 'right answer'
the fallacy that the sorts of financial and analytical data typically provided give a sufficiently complete insight into the dynamics of the issue (the neglect of the human element)
the fallacy that