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Shortage of Business Faculty
October 16, 2008 9:21 AM   Subscribe

There is a potential crisis (PDF) looming in business education. Unlike many other fields in higher education, demand for qualified faculty well outstrips supply. The result is a strong job market and high pay (PDF). In response to this potential shortage a number of things are being done. The accounting profession has recently started a program designed to increase the number of professors in the field called the Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program. This program provides fellowships of $30,000 a year for 30 students. The AACSB has created a website to promote getting a PhD in business. The PhD project is designed to increase the number of minority PhD business professors.

Even some business professors have set up their own personal websites designed to explain why getting a PhD might be a good idea. See here and here.

Some additional links:
A wiki run by BYU students who are planning on applying to doctoral programs.
A website that ranks business schools by their research productivity.
posted by bove (32 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sounds like there's a good business opportunity for a lot of people to make a lot of money teaching a lot of people how to make a lot of money. I smell a business plan!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:36 AM on October 16, 2008


PhD's in "business"... Never has there ever been a greater example of "those who can't, teach".
posted by KokuRyu at 9:37 AM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, I resemble that remark!
posted by bove at 9:53 AM on October 16, 2008


I think the market is taking care of this problem even as we speak. The "hey, if I get a business degree I'm guaranteed to make millions!" mentality is gurgling down the drain along with the Dow.
posted by languagehat at 10:02 AM on October 16, 2008


In addition to worrying about the titans of tomorrow, could we focus a little energy on educating the baboons in business today?
posted by rokusan at 10:10 AM on October 16, 2008


There are going to be a lot of people out of jobs; some of them are qualified to teach.
posted by grobstein at 10:13 AM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


actually, languagehat, the trend is usually the other way. When the economy does poorly, admissions to business schools and MBA programs usually goes up. People who are out of a job think it might be a good time to go back to school and get an additional degree.
posted by bove at 10:20 AM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Would they be Lean Six Sigma black belts, too? That would be cool.
posted by fixedgear at 10:20 AM on October 16, 2008


Though exciting in name, the fact that Lean Six Sigma black belts are given to "any team or individual responsible for managing or participating significantly in manufacturing, design, or administrative activities" cuts down on the badass factor quite a bit.

"Streamlining production with ninja-like precision" and "crushing administrative incompetence with a kung-fu grip" only grab my attention if they are taglines for a cheeky office comedy.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:33 AM on October 16, 2008


Why bother with a PhD in accounting when in much less time you can get a CPA and makes reams of money, then, if you want, switch ovber to teaching or become a part-time teacher and add to your wealth?
posted by Postroad at 10:51 AM on October 16, 2008


Yeah, we need more financial geniuses to come with the next generation of mortgage-backed securities.
posted by tommasz at 10:51 AM on October 16, 2008


Don't blame mortgage backed securities, they are just at tool. Blame the lack of transparency for these instruments.
posted by einer at 10:58 AM on October 16, 2008


Am I the only one who finds the idea of spending six years getting an advanced degree in one of these profoundly anti-intellectual disciplines rather depressing?
posted by killdevil at 11:27 AM on October 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Okay, you're talking about my field here, and a few things to know.

Am I the only one who finds the idea of spending six years getting an advanced degree in one of these profoundly anti-intellectual disciplines rather depressing?

The work we do is anything but anti-intellectual, business school academics study many of the big questions about organizations and economies, but also things like individual creativity, sources of innovation, and how to spur entrepreneurship in the developing world. Business school professors are generally economists or sociologists, or more rarely economists, historians, or psychologists. They united less by a particular approach to research than an interest in business, organizations, and the economy. (Many have never actually been involved in running a business, some have never held jobs outside of academia, take from that what you will.) For my money, it is the most vigorous and interesting corner of the social sciences, with some of the best opportunities to reach out to the "real world" and make a difference.

There is also a lot of discussion within business schools about how to rebuild business education to better view management as a profession, like medicine, with a code of ethics and approach to conduct. A surprisingly large number of business school professors are lefties. If change happens to increase ethics in management, business schools will hopefully be one of the places where this happens.
posted by blahblahblah at 11:50 AM on October 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


I was considering going back to school to get an MBA, but have since come to the realization that these schools that continue to teach that business's main responsiblity is to 'provide shareholder satisfaction thru value added services' and such are partly responsible for the decline of our environment and prolific greed in America.

When you have thousands of students graduating each year who are focused on 'maximizing shareholder growth' instead of practicing stewardship over the environment and community you get problems like our current environmental and fiscal crises.

And before I get pointed out as a liberal hippie tree-hugger or whatever, let me say that I'm currently a cog in a Fortune 500 company and have a good view of whats going on. CEOs focused on year 30something of profit growth instead of making plans to reduce the company's environmental impact and energy usage is where we have gotten.

I also recognize the need to change the system from within, but I just can't see myself putting up $120K or whatever for a HBS or W&M MBA degree for a career that would drive me to a heart attack at 40.
posted by daHIFI at 11:53 AM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


And if you really want to know what business academics study, take a look at the tables of content of the major publications:
-Administrative Science Quarterly (the worst-named journal ever, but the most prestigious)
-Academy of Management Journal
-Organization Science
posted by blahblahblah at 12:00 PM on October 16, 2008


For my money, it is the most vigorous and interesting corner of the social sciences, with some of the best opportunities to reach out to the "real world" and make a difference.

I suppose I misspoke in labeling business academics anti-intellectual. It's interesting, though, that the professors who instruct fresh-faced business students have interests so completely orthogonal to those they are teaching (business students being, on the whole, pragmatists more interested in money-making than in the finer points of macroeconomics or, say, group dynamics theory).
posted by killdevil at 12:11 PM on October 16, 2008


(Many have never actually been involved in running a business, some have never held jobs outside of academia, take from that what you will.)

Yeah, that's the beauty of it.
posted by fixedgear at 12:15 PM on October 16, 2008


killdevil --

Its like a lot of professional schools (especially law school) where most professors are interested in academic issues, or even (gasp) the public good, while most, though not all, students are pragmatists.
posted by blahblahblah at 12:17 PM on October 16, 2008


I think blahblahblah's point is one of the major reasons there is a shortage of professors. The people who generally pick business as a major are interested in making lots of money, not in doing academic research. In most other social science fields like sociology and psychology, there is a clear path between the undergraduate degree and a potential PhD. However, in business the material studied in a bachelor's degree is very different than what you would study as an academic.
posted by bove at 12:26 PM on October 16, 2008


There is also a lot of discussion within business schools about how to rebuild business education to better view management as a profession, like medicine, with a code of ethics and approach to conduct. A surprisingly large number of business school professors are lefties.

I suspect that you're an exception to the rule, blahblahblah (since after all, you're here on MeFi, right?), but notice your starting point here: you're telling us that codes of ethics are being talked about and that some within even think something as drastic as "rebuilding" is necessary. Heck, even the way that the number of lefty professors is "surprising" says a lot about why management schools get so little respect in so many quarters.

Myself, maybe I'm a poisoned opinion infected by anecdote, but it seems that every dumb-as-a-hammer guy in a suit that I've ever met has an MBA. I am talking about people who cannot spell (in any language), cannot do basic math, can cannot use any computer program other than Microsoft Word and "Google".

To be fair, they usually do have great hair.

(I have a colleague who calls MBA colleges "hairdressing schools" for that reason.)
posted by rokusan at 12:52 PM on October 16, 2008


Its like a lot of professional schools (especially law school)

On the other hand, I have never met a genuinely stupid doctor or lawyer.

So Management as a "profession?" Hm.
posted by rokusan at 12:53 PM on October 16, 2008


Don't worry daHIFI! All the most successful business leaders have moved away from maximizing shareholder return, to maximizing their own return.

tommasz, You need a mathematics, statistics, or physics degree for any advanced stuff on Wall St. A business major simply doesn't have the mathematical background.

blah, I'm quite aware that business academics often study interesting problems. I'm also aware that accounting, economics, finance, and presumably marketing are all well defined professions requiring some basic knowledge. I don't see how you can claim "management" is a profession. To manage, you need some clear insight into the specific business' workings, and your personality must match your employees. I see how management classes might improve someone already qualified, but never impart the basic qualification.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:25 PM on October 16, 2008


For sure we need more "Businessmen" in this country.
posted by Mister_A at 2:49 PM on October 16, 2008


Between all the extra out of work businessmen and the PTSD ex-soldiers, we should be able solve the teaching crisis lickety-split!
posted by rokusan at 2:59 PM on October 16, 2008


CEOs focused on year 30something of profit growth instead of making plans to reduce the company's environmental impact and energy usage is where we have gotten.

CEOs are agents of the corporations they work for, and they have no business pursuing their own personal vision and ideals through their position. If that's what they want to do with their lives, they shouldn't become CEOs.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 3:16 PM on October 16, 2008


blahblahblah: You have made me rethink my prejudices. Those T of C's were genuinely eye-opening.
posted by languagehat at 4:07 PM on October 16, 2008


So Management as a "profession?" Hm.

It ain't easy running a business. You need to have a complex set of skills, including the ability to competently manage accounting, marketing and product development, sales, hr, strategy, talent management, and a whole bunch of other stuff, as well as have the innate ability to execute, and execute well. Everything, save for the last attribute, can be learned. While being a CEO isn't quite the same as being a doctor or a lawyer, it is a profession or a vocation.

It's kind of sad how the current financial crisis has given "business" a bad name...

Besides, although I forget the stats, the vast majority of businesses in the US (and Canada, where I'm from) - something like 90% - are SMEs, and are not the monolithic corporations we love to hate. These businesses power the economy, provide jobs, and pay taxes. We need businesspeople to help generate wealth.

Perhaps we should go back to the land anyway, to reduce our environmental footprint. But it won't happen overnight. We still need employment to pay our rent or our mortgage, put food on the table, and save for the future.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:52 PM on October 16, 2008


I don't see how you can claim "management" is a profession. To manage, you need some clear insight into the specific business' workings, and your personality must match your employees. I see how management classes might improve someone already qualified, but never impart the basic qualification.

and

So Management as a "profession?" Hm.

So this is actually kind of interesting (to me, at least), and, as I referenced earlier, a subject about which Rakesh Khurana of HBS has written about. Originally, the goal of business schools was, in the words of the Tuck charter, to "broaden the minds and raise the ideals of its graduates that it will do something to elevate the business community above the plane of mere money-getting." At the beginning, schools generally taught "managerial capitalism" aiming to place graduates in long-term positions at well established firms, where they would stay for their entire careers. In short, business schools were built around the idea of creating professional managers, who, with coherent ethics and skills instilled by the schools, would guide companies according to their judgment -- basically, managers as a profession.

Over the past three decades, this has increasingly been replaced by the cold hard economic truth of "shareholder capitalism" where managers are functionaries that help the market operate efficiently, rather than decision-making members of a profession who can exercise their own judgment as needed. This is not necessarily the wrong view, but it does undermine the idea of the manager as a professional and throws the role of business schools into doubt. Now, we all teach leadership (a notoriously slippery subject) as a keystone of business school education, but, as Rakesh has pointed out, many people leave business school uninterested in leading, but more focused on the quantitative skills needed to get rich. People in business schools aren't just talking about how to solve this problem and return management to a profession, there are lots of approaches underway, including more focus on ethics and responsibility, but there is no consensus as of yet. Still, at its core, managers should be part of a profession, just as accountants and lawyers are: with a coherent view on the way to treat subordinates and act ethically, and a set of skills that make them good leaders, and good stewards of the shareholders and society in general. We haven't figured out how to do all this yet, but I'd like to think we are trying.

Now, of course, the reality is that most MBAs want to make lots of money, and most professors are more interested in research than teaching - just as in every other field. But that doesn't mean that business schools don't struggle with some of the same moral concerns you guys have been raising in this post.
posted by blahblahblah at 9:09 PM on October 16, 2008


Struck me as deliciously ironic that for the Ph. D. programs in business, it's a novel and desperate move to pay the way for your students. In the sciences, almost all of us have some kind of stipend with which we are able to feed ourselves with some kind of salty, dehydrated noodle product. The dark overtone to all of this is that maybe they're just realizing that for thirty thousand dollars a year you can hire a highly qualified MBA for a fraction of the going rate. But, you get a degree at the end, so, it's like, a good deal! True in some cases for those who can go on to work in big pharma and the like, but a business Ph. D? What can they do but teach?
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 6:07 AM on October 17, 2008


Just to respond to StrangerInAStrainedLand, PhD programs in business have been fully funding their doctoral students for years. In fact, as far as I can tell, the average funding level is higher than in most other doctoral programs. The Accounting Doctoral Scholars program is explicitly designed to fund an additional 30 PhD students in accounting each year. Plus, unlike many fields, funding in business schools is generally guaranteed and is not tied to things like grants.

I don't really see any dark overtones. PhD students in business also don't usually have large teaching loads, and their teaching often results in additional pay.

If there was no other market for individuals with PhDs in business, the field probably would not need to pay what it does. From the link above:
Average Salary of New PhD Hires by Discipline
Accounting $132K
Finance $115K
Operations Management $102K
Management $100K
Marketing $108K
Information Systems $96K

The base salary at the top schools for Accounting and Finance graduates is as much as $175K per year (for 9 months) plus 22% $38.5K in summer research support. In 2003 a business professor made $573K. Also, many business professors supplement their income through consulting.
posted by bove at 12:04 PM on October 17, 2008


I'm sorry but leading will never be a profession : Most political leaders will necessarily have training as lawyers. Researchers will never follow anyone but other researchers. Engineers won't ever like following anyone besides other engineers. etc.

Boeing hires mostly physics majors for management roles, no? You must graduate from the Ecole Polytechnic for any serious management role in a French engineering company. etc.

MBAs are popular specifically because they mean you've entered the relevant workforce successfully but have an interest in management too. PhDs should always mean that you're smarter than the average bear and have considerable interest.

But why would I ever need an undergraduate management major? Accounting, finance, sure great! But management? What does this guy actually know? By comparison, a physics major will almost surely be more broadly educated and be more intelligent.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:04 PM on October 17, 2008


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