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Saturday, 06 May 2006

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Richard Edelstein

It is challenging to discuss the nature of MBA education outside the U.S. because there are inevitably problems defining what an MBA is in a particular country and how it is or is not integrated into executive recruitment practices. As the MBA is an American graduate level professional degree usually embedded in a university context, it is not surprising that significant adaptation to local conditions is required. In Europe where we think of the MBA as well established, the reality is that there is great variability by country in terms of number of degrees granted and in the acceptance of the degree by the national executive recruitment market. Most of the "leading" European MBA programs are purposefully creations of independent institutions outside the university and oriented toward an international market of transnational or global corporations not national labor markets. Mainstream business studies are actually found in applied economics departments of many European Universities.

The discussion of the Brazilian case suggests that the MBA remains a marginal qualificaton for Brazialian companies and begs the question of where senior managers come from, if not business studies. Often engineering, economics or legal training are more significant qualifications for entry into major firms outside the U.S. Another interesting issue is the curriculum and content of business studies. What is actually taught and what are the pedagocial methods used? It would then be easier to situate the MBA in terms of its prestige and significance in the selection of leaders of firms, organizations and even government. Focusing on the MBA degree tends to limit the discussion when it comes to understanding the patterns of leadership selection and executive recruitment in countries outside the U.S., Canada, UK and perhaps Australia.

That meetings are being held in numerous countries regarding education for business is a good thing. A little more rigor in the nature of the conversation would add even more value.

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