The MBA Myth

June 6, 2012 Topic: Innovation Blog Brand: The Buzz

The MBA Myth

Columnist Vivek Wadhwa has stepped off the high dive and belly flopped in the Washington Post with his latest “Would the Facebook IPO have Bombed if Mark Zuckerberg had an MBA?”

Proposing that the degree would have given Zuckerberg a better understanding of “corporate finance and capital markets,” Wadhwa starts out just fine. After all, even those who hold degrees could probably benefit from a refresher course or two. But then he begins to brandish the degree like a potent panacea that would fix even Zuckerberg’s “awkward behavior such as hiding out in the bathroom” or his “taking the stage wearing a hoodie.” Last this writer checked, advanced degrees lack any magical ability to ward off business failures, social awkwardness or fashion faux pas.

If the possession of an MBA alone is so critical to success, why do companies spend time training new hires out of business school? While an MBA is undoubtedly useful, professional experience is paramount. Wadhwa claims “you can learn and grow outside the classroom, but it takes more time and is often painful because you learn by trial and error.” But an IPO launch is not carried out by one person; Wadhwa acts as if Zuckerberg worked on it at home like some long-term research project. Undoubtedly a few bearers of the sacred MBA were involved. How difficult for them to learn by trial and error, like the rest of us mortals.

Money is not the only means by which to measure success, but many people rack up business achievements without a professional degree. Zuckerberg’s IPO bombed, one failure in an otherwise impressive run. This howler can’t see over its own glasses.