There are better reasons for a MBA


Met a guy at a party, who claims to have received an education from one of the top 5 universities in the world.
His have an undergraduate degree in business and have worked in a major American media company.
He wants to enter a MBA programe.

when asked why MBA, his response was

1. To gain a greater knowledge of the world
2. To broaden career choices.

It might be a bit arrogant and pompous for me to say the following,
but with all due respect i thought the answer was mediocre at best.

I mean, first of all, presumably when he said that he wants greater knowledge of the world he meant that he want to understand human society better.
I would think either economics or politics are much better choices than MBA, especially consider that he already have a bachelor degree in business.

lets compare the three disciplines.
economics – the study of how desire (incentives) influence actions of individuals and larger human grouping.
politics – the study of how individual or human grouping use power to get what they desire.
what is learned in these two disciplines are very fundamental nature of human and their profound implication.
On the other hand, a MBA is the study of the practicalities of running a business organization which is a type of actor in an economy and politics
I am sorry to say, it is hard for me to not challenge him on that point, specially being a person who have studied business, politics and economics.

So i ask him “why MBA? when you already have a business degree, why not economics or politics?” in response he essentially says “a business bachelor gave me some understanding of the world, i want more understanding, so masters of business administration it is.”

Hmm, again, sorry for being completely pompous, but i was not satisfied with that answer,
an example of a better answer would be something like this
“well, let assume that GDP is an approximation of human activity on earth, business organizations accounts for most of those activity. so understanding how those business organization think and operate will help me gain better knowledge of how the world works. let me give you an example. US government expenditure is accounts for roughly 37% of US GDP, that means that 63% of GDP is decided by business organizations. the numbers for world avg is roughly 32% for the former and 68% for the latter”
i would have been satisfied with the answer above, even if i still think its not a good answer, because it is highly contentious that GDP is a good approximation for human activity.

his second rational for doing a MBA, “to broaden career choices” is an honest answer, but it does not mean it is a good one because it just sounds like he does not have a clear goal. wanting flexibility is not the kind of grand vision that an elite MBA programe is looking for (again, being pretentious).
Elite programs look for leaders with grand vision who is also pragmatic about it all.
A good answer should explain why MBA is a mean to X which is in turn a mean to a grand vision of a world becoming better.

an example would be better a worded version of the following
“I want a MBA because i want to be a venture capitalist, because i believe the world are changed by realized ideas. and being a venture capitalist is my way of finding world changing ideas and facilitate its realization.”
see what i did there?
MBA → venture capitalist → idea realization → make the world better.

anyway…. i should end my rant and go to sleep.

again sorry for being a completely arrogant pompous jerk, but i couldn’t help it.

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6 thoughts on “There are better reasons for a MBA

  1. Here is how I think. (which may be wrong) Nowadays business administration is like a small government, they have like account, decision department, hierarchical structure, labors. The difference between them is their goal. Companies aim to make profit (money, currency) to survive, however, governments does not.

    If the guy works in an international company which is big enough, and he has enough powers to influence the decision of the company. Then he would need to gain a greater knowledge of the world “in a short time” to run the business and gain profits. Therefore MBA is a good choice for him, compare to politics and economics.

    I am not trying to say your point is wrong. I am trying figure out the gap between you and him. It seems his reasons are based on the viewpoint of a “employee”.

    It seems to me you are providing the reasons that from the viewpoint of researcher (scientists). To a researcher (scholar), gaining the knowledge of the world means understand how the society works. What they pursue is the “knowledge”.

    Of course, you two are the people who had the conversation. My understanding (may be wrong) is based on your post.

    I totally agree with your way of looking his second response. That mean he doesn’t have a clear goal. I would say “I want XXX, so I need a MBA.”

    Next time when I meet you, I would like to convince you why need Ph.D. if you want to know the reason. ^^

  2. ansel, my favorite reader!!!

    “Here is how I think. (which may be wrong) Nowadays business administration is like a small government, they have like account, decision department, hierarchical structure, labors. The difference between them is their goal. Companies aim to make profit (money, currency) to survive, however, governments does not.

    If the guy works in an international company which is big enough, and he has enough powers to influence the decision of the company. Then he would need to gain a greater knowledge of the world “in a short time” to run the business and gain profits. Therefore MBA is a good choice for him, compare to politics and economics.”

    you are arguing that people in business may be forced to know more about the world than economist or politician. Even if that is true, it does not explicitly suggest that mba is a better choice to know more about the world.

    your answer would make more sense for a questions like “what kind of people knows more about the world, politicians, economist or managers?” not the stated question.

    • “Then he would need to gain a greater knowledge of the world in a short time to run the business and gain profits.”

      “you are arguing that people in business may be forced to know more about the world than economist or politician.”

      No no no, you misunderstand my sentence because my poor English.
      Where do they gain the knowledge of the world? Of course, from the knowledge explored by economist and politics researcher. What I emphasized is the time. They want the knowledge of world in order to gain profit in a short period. Your next reply is what I am going to say.

  3. I mean, look there are many ways to answer the question “why MBA? when you already have a business degree, why not economics or politics?”

    let me offer another example:

    “unlike student of economics and politics, who is only concern with knowledge and research in their defined scope of study, a MBA is the study of the practicalities of running a business organization which is a type of actor in both the economy and politics. That means a successful MBA really needs to undersand both economics and politics, but can do without delving into the academic and research side of both discipline. As a result with a MBA i will gain greater knowledge of politics, economics and business and practical application of them”

    • I think this example is best explanation in my mind. So, they can also contribute to economics and politics in different way. To those successful businessman, like the top manager of Microsoft and At&t, they should be also experts in politics and economics.

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