Why the PhDs about MBAs?

Every so often, I hear why an MBA is useless.  Friends and colleagues tell me why the degree is unnecessary and why they will not pursue one.  Every so often, there’s press about the MBA degree being worth little or nothing.  During the dot-com boom, a lot of people talked about getting a degree from the school of life.  Recently, there was a free eBook that Seth Godin cited.

Just so you know, I have a MBA from Darden, the graduate school of business at the University of Virginia.  I consider it one of the best investments I ever made.

Have you ever heard the one about medical school?  What do you call the person who graduates last in their med school class?

> Doctor.

But not all MBAs are created equal, just as not all MDs are not created equal.

AdAge published an article titled "MBAs May Be A Marketing Liability."  The critical mistake that this article supports lies in a simple statistics lesson – one that I learned from the late Professor Dana Clyman.

> Correlation does not confirm causation.

The AdAge article presents so many half-baked conclusions that it might be actually an early April Fool’s joke.  E.g. any masters degree other than an MBA is worth something.  Underperforming marketers respond to more surveys.  Out-performing companies are meritocracies while underperformers are mired in politics.

Incidentally, I visited the survey sponsor’s site, Coogan & Partners, and it doesn’t appear that any of the principals have a MBA.  Maybe some of those skills would have helped them develop better arguments.

Certainly a MBA degree isn’t the right path for everyone.  I realize that many entrepreneurs find great success without undergraduate degrees as well.  You can get the same results – education, network, debt – in many different ways.  If you’re considering whether or not to pursue a MBA, the key is to, as the Greeks say, know yourself.

If you haven’t heard, the marketing world is changing.  CMOs and CEOs are not on the same page, because marketers don’t speak the language.  This is something that b-school can teach.  "Can" because not everyone needs an MBA to succeed and not everyone with an MBA will succeed.

The common factor I find amongst those who pan MBAs as worthless:  they do not have an MBA.  Which I propose drives their adoption of a PhD instead – "player hater degree" if you’re unfamiliar with the term.  Now there’s the causation behind the correlation.

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