Inside the strange, uniform politics of today’s MBA programs—and what it says about America’s elites

By JOHN BENJAMIN  (Shared with permission of author)
May 14, 2018

Students in the country’s top MBA programs pride themselves on their open-mindedness. This is, after all, what they’ve been sold: American business schools market their ability to train the kinds of broadly competent, intellectually receptive people that will help solve the problems of a global economy.

But in truth, MBA programs are not the open forums advertised in admissions brochures. Behind this façade, they are ideological institutions committed to a strict blend of social liberalism and economic conservatism. Though this fusion may be the favorite of American elites—the kinds of people who might repeat that tired line “I’m socially liberal but fiscally conservative”—it takes a strange form in business school. Elite business schooling is tailored to

promote two types of solutions to the big problems that arise in society: either greater innovation or freer markets. Proposals other than what’s essentially more business are brushed aside, or else patched over with a type of liberal politics that’s heavy on rhetorical flair but light on relevance outside privileged circles.

It is in this closed ideological loop that we wannabe masters of the universe often struggle to think clearly about the common good or what it takes to achieve it. Today’s MBA programs, insofar as they churn out graduates riveted to this worldview, limit the vision of future leaders at a time when public dissatisfaction with business and its institutions makes our complacency a danger.

Read the full text of the article here.

This article, written by John Benjamin, was originally shared on The New Republic website on May 14, 2018.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Terry Nelidov says:

    Ouch! … and double-ouch!! … because it’s written by a recent MBA grad himself.

    But should we in the Erb community beat ourselves up over what’s happening in the rest of the MBA world? After all, we’re trying our best to do exactly what Benjamin advocates through our MBA / MS degree, plus sustainability research and business engagement! Or is that enough?

    We have limited time and resources as an institute, and as a global community. Should we focus on drilling down to make the MBA / MS experience better, deeper, richer and more transformative every day for our nearly 100 students, or should we be taking some of those resources and investing them in moving the needle on sustainability within the MBA itself — for the other 700 MBA students in the building? And, if so, that’s a tough nut to crack! Where would we begin?

    This is a real-time discussion we’re having at the institute — one which you can help us think through!

Leave a Reply