Sunday, March 15, 2009


I say a lot of snide things about fat cats, but I'll take this as a good sign:

...The master's of business administration, a gateway credential throughout corporate America, is especially coveted on Wall Street....

But with the economy in disarray and so many financial firms in free fall, analysts, and even educators themselves, are wondering if the way business students are taught may have contributed to the most serious economic crisis in decades.

"It is so obvious that something big has failed," said Angel Cabrera, dean of the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz. "We can look the other way, but come on. The C.E.O.'s of those companies, those are people we used to brag about. We cannot say, 'Well, it wasn't our fault' when there is such a systemic, widespread failure of leadership." ...

Hell, biz schools are even asking their young charges to imagine failure! And question the perfection of the market!

... Thomas Philippon, an assistant professor of finance at [NYU's] Stern [School of Business], plans to incorporate the changed world into his class this fall. While he plans to keep discussing basic financial concepts and tools, he also plans to spend more time on concepts like systemic risk.

Professor Philippon also plans to inject a discussion of whether or not the market is always right when it values things. "You would not have had that discussion three years ago," he said....

If this kind of thinking takes hold, it's conceivable that MBAs might someday be more conscientious and more realistic about capitalism than the average talk-radio blowhard or online Randian.

But that would just repeat a pattern we've seen elsewhere. Career members of the military are now far more conscientious about torture than their civilian bosses were for eight years. A lot of cops, especially in big cities, are firmly in favor of getting guns off the street in a way that would horrify exurban members of the NRA. You'd think the opinions of those on the front lines would matter more -- but when they part company with the wingnuts, the wingnuts just ignore them.

The same thing could happen if business schools start teaching a sense of responsibility and doubts about the market. Even if the new breed have a sense of responsibility and are good at their job, the Limbaughs and Boehners will just ignore their opinions. Even real-world experience won't be seen as a substitute for pure zealotry.

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