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Wednesday, 27 September 2006

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Della Bradshaw

Are MBAs all a bunch of cheats? It is one of the great questions of the year in business school circles and must certainly make uncomfortable reading for most business school deans. According to the recent report from the Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal, MBAs are the biggest cheats of all graduate students with 56 per cent of them admitting to cheating. (The mind boggles at what the real figure must be.) Financial Times, September 20, 2006 http://www.ft.com/cms/s/fa431f24-48c7-11db-a996-0000779e2340.html

But perhaps just as disturbing is the attitude of some European business schools that it is only US and Canadian students that cheat, as these were the only ones surveyed. In a letter in the FT on Monday October 2 from Henley Management College, for example, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/5c3c67a6-51b2-11db-b736-0000779e2340.html,the author Professor Susan Foreman writes: "Yet again the integrity of future business leaders in the US is being called into question."

Prof Foreman blames US business schools for admitting younger students to their programmes who are easily misled. She says older students - and Henley students are well into their thirties -"have the maturity to challenge unacceptable behaviour within, rather than copy it."

To be frank, I'm not sure that this argument holds water. According to the report, MBA students cheat more than doctors, lawyers or social scientists. All my information about US graduate schools suggests that these students will be younger than MBAs - and yet they cheat less.

Also, according to the author of the report, Donald McCabe, professor of management and international business at Rutgers University, in New Jersey, undergraduate students cheat more than graduate students and high school students are the worst of all.

So, why are MBAs the worst cheats of all? I have my own personal theory, based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Could it be that MBA programmes have more men and fewer women participants than other graduate programmes?

Perhaps this should be next focus for Prof McCabe's research.

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