Paul Danos, Dean Tuck School of Business at
In the June edition of Atlantic Monthly, a lengthy article claims that “Most of management theory is inane . . . If you want to succeed in business, don’t get an M.B.A. Study philosophy instead.” I wrote a letter to the editor in response (below) and posted it on the magazine’s online forum. But since only magazine subscribers can post on their forum, I thought people may want to read my letter or offer their own thoughts here.
Letter to the Editor:
I am writing to offer a correction and a clarification to “The Management Myth,” by Matthew Stewart in your June edition.
First, a correction: The article states that in 1908, Harvard “opened the first graduate school in the country to offer a master’s degree in business.” Actually, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth was founded eight years earlier, in 1900, as the country’s first graduate school of management.
More importantly, a clarification: In “The Management Myth,” Mr. Stewart himself fell for a myth about the modern MBA: that it can be equated to a survey of today’s popular press best sellers.
Frankly, there is a strong element of truth to the author’s central thesis, which is that Rousseau and Shakespeare offer a better grounding for business management than a library of the gurus’ tomes. Many of our best students here at Tuck come to us with a broad liberal arts education. Successful business leaders are as likely to have undergraduate degrees in poetry or fine arts as finance or economics.
But it is not accurate to equate the popular management best sellers with an MBA – those books can be important but they are only a small sliver of a true business education. An MBA from a top business school gives you a solid foundation in quantitative fields like accounting and finance, it gives you the terminology, the underlying theories, the best practices, and it allows you to expand your understanding of how that all works in actual business settings. It also explores the “soft skills” that are so important – interpersonal, ethics, leadership and communications. If Mr. Stewart is interested in sampling the full spectrum of a modern MBA, we’d love to have him up here at Tuck and do our best to kill some myths together.
Dean, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
Hanover, New Hampshire.
Tags(clickable): Atlantic Monthly