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From Higher Aims To Hired Hands - The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management [Anglais] [Broché]

Rakesh Khurana

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From Higher Aims to Hired Hands Is management a profession? Should it be? Can it be? This title reveals how such questions have driven business education and shaped American management and society. It shows that university-based business schools were founded to train a professional class of managers in the mold of doctors and lawyers but have retreated from that goal.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.4 étoiles sur 5  10 commentaires
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 B-school biography tracks educational trends 15 février 2008
Par Rolf Dobelli - Publié sur
This brilliant book is a sociological study of the modern business school, an ill-understood institution that has had a profound impact on the world's economy. Insider Rakesh Khurana, a professor at Harvard, begins in the late 19th century, when B-schools were born into a burgeoning America. Wharton was the first true B-school, established in 1881 with $100,000 from Joseph Wharton, a Pennsylvania Quaker. Programs at elite colleges, such as Dartmouth and Harvard, soon followed. Nasty teething pains, however, upset business schools' infancy. Academics didn't agree on curriculum or even purpose. Moreover, the nagging question about whether business (or "management") was a real profession lingered. In adolescence, the gawky B-schools looked longingly at their unquestionably legitimate, older, wealthier siblings: graduate schools for law and medicine. This led to a business-school image makeover that didn't quite work, according to the author, leaving today's B-schools facing mid-life anomie as the economic value of B-school enrollment - and the resulting M.B.A. - drops. getAbstract recommends this book to anyone who wants to understand the past and future of this influential institution.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Future of Business Schools 29 janvier 2008
Par S. Kanitz - Publié sur
Khurana does a superb historical review of business schools and business education. It clearly shows that one could predict a country's future 20 years ahead if you look at what business schools are teaching at the time. " Tell me what you are teaching in B Schools and I will tell you how your economy will fare in the future'. Seems obvious but no one has done this type of analysis before.
Khurana also shows how americas center-left was instrumental in creating MBAS and a socially responsible business leader, a move we have shifted away since 1970 when "agency theory" got a foothold in Wall Street. A must read.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 must-read for all b-school students 10 août 2010
Par raghu - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I came to this book with a prejudice - I thought business school professors mostly published inane statistical analyses of executive compensation and such other frivolous nonsense. This book definitely contradicts that stereotype and is a fine example of high-quality scholarship on an interesting and important subject.

Khurana's main thesis is that the management profession in general, and the education it receives in business schools in particular, has lost its way in the last 30 years or so. Here, Khurana uses the word 'profession' in its precise sociological sense, not in the loose, colloquial sense in which every specialist is a professional. The sociological literature on 'professions' is too massive to summarize easily in this review; the book does offer a good introduction and many good bibliographical references. For our purposes, a 'profession' differs from a mere 'occupation' in possessing a service ideal i.e. professions claim to serve some kind of a higher purpose in society than just earning a living. Thus, for e.g. a doctor is a professional, but a carpenter is not. Historically, in the West, only 3 groups have enjoyed universal prestige and recognition as professions: medicine, law and clergy. (In case you are wondering, no, the world's oldest profession is not one..)

Khurana develops in great detail the idea that the original founders of business schools, first at Wharton in Pennsylvania and later at Harvard, Yale etc, envisioned management as a profession; its purpose would be to efficiently organize production in the large industrial corporation that was emerging as the dominant organizational form, and do so to the benefit of all of a corporations constituencies ('stakeholders') i.e. employees, customers, owners, the state and the community at large. But starting the 70's, this ideal has degenerated into a monomaniacal obsession with profit maximization with the result that business school graduates are now mere hired hands without any higher purpose even in theory. The recent attempts at creating a Hyppocratic Oath for MBAs is a direct and interesting reaction to Khurana's book:

Khurana's analysis is considerably more sophisticated than the doctrinaire narrative that passes for scholarship on this subject. Khurana mentions Alfred Chandler's "The Visible hand" as an exemplar of this genre. Nevertheless, I do not really agree with his thesis
overall. For one thing his nostalgia for a golden age of idealistic management pioneers seems like a distorted reading of history. And, for all his merits, Khurana apparently is still too much of a prisoner to his institutional affiliations to ask two rather basic questions:

1. Are managers so powerful because our world is dominated by large corporations which require talented men to control and run them? Or is our world dominated by large corporations because managers are so powerful? This may look like a chicken-and-egg dilemma, but it is not. The historical evidence to answer this question is out there for
someone to dig it out. Alas, that someone is not Khurana, at least not in this book.

2. The central conceit of the management profession is that its skills are more-or-less portable. A good manager can lead a automobile manufacturer one year and then move on to a software company the next and still be productive and successful. Khurana completely fails to challenge or critically examine this claim.

Overall, this is still a book very well worth reading especially for anyone interested in getting an MBA.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 From Higher Aims to Hired Hands 13 mars 2009
Par Robert T. Lenz - Publié sur
Rakesh Khurana's book From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession has no peer. Simply put, it is the most comprehensive, probing analysis of the historical development of schools of business and business education that has ever been published. Although the author does not put forth specific recommendations to address issues raised, Professor Khurana identifies the major challenges facing contemporary business schools and describes their implications for contemporary American society. This book should be mandatory reading for every university president, and the deans and faculties of schools of business. I strongly recommend it.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Gem of a Book! 29 décembre 2010
Par Shona - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
What an invaluable book! As a part-time MBA student who has been in my program for a year now, I wanted a book to read to help build my "MBA mindset". Well I did not really get what I bargained for with this particular book. What started off as a nice summer read caused me to seriously look into the methods that are in place at my own business school as well as what exactly it is that an MBA stands for in the marketplace.
Professor Khurana approaches the subject more as a academic than an common industry critic. This book reads very much like an academic journal. A lot of the text is consumed by a historical analysis of the beginnings and development of the MBA degree; which I found fascinating, but others may grow a bit weary of reading so much detail about MBA reformers in the 1960s. Overall I was surprised by his candor regarding the AACSB and the "elite" MBA programs (especially since he is employed by Harvard). He highlighted these two entities as part of the problem; settling for modified standards that have helped move the MBA away from its original designation of a professional degree; and leaving the door wide open for the degree to have no formal defined standards and/or purpose.
Surprisingly though, I did not find this book to be an outright onslaught on the MBA degree and its growing irrelevancy. True, I may be biased, but if anything, I found this book to be an assessment. Khurana does not share any specific initiatives about what needs to be done about the current state of graduate education programs, but just rather concludes that a transformation is needed. I saw this book as a simple evaluation tool; a gift to me as a consumer of an MBA degree basically. A consumer that is far more knowledgeable about the product (the MBA) than I was before reading this book. Kudos, and thank you!
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