The Future of Business Education

by Raymond Miles



By virtually any measure, the business of business education appears to be booming in the United States. The Wall Street Journal reports that 63,000 MBA's graduated in 1983 compared to 21,000 in 1970. Figures compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics indicate that while business and management majors accounted for only 13.1 percent of all U.S. Bachelor's degrees and 6.3 percent of all Master's degrees in 1962, by 1982 the figures had risen to 22.6 percent and a striking 20.8 percent respectively. As U.S. businesses flourished, the number of business schools proliferated, growing from three in the nineteenth century to 50 by 1920, and to 85 by 1940. As business school curricula closely modeled existing career specialization, an inevitable and ultimately debilitating cycle of inbreeding occurred. By the fifties, little new was coming out of many business schools. Faculties with minimal training passed along narrowly focused tricks of the existing trade to students who were frequently at the lower end of the academic achievement ladder. The dramatic changes in technology and worldwide patterns of competition will have an impact on the future structure of business education. Moreover, during the coming decade at least, the group of students involved in undergraduate and graduate business education will be significantly smaller than the current cohort.

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