Is entrepreneurship the new MBA?
MBAs are a scientific approach to management stemming from early 20th century industrialisation. It is in their DNA to prepare people for management careers in large corporations. Among much else, you’re taught about Business Process Management, TQM, Six Sigma, and all kinds of other management theories and their relative merits and applications. Because the roots of the MBA lie in the manufacturing industry and the early 1900s work of industrial efficiency pioneer Frederick Winslow Taylor, there is always something Fordian in its approach to producing lookalike managers with the same ideas in their heads and speaking the same management language. There’ll be a module or two on entrepreneurship, but those who go to business school with an entrepreneurial idea already incubating in their minds might feel a desire to ‘cut to the chase’ and just get on with building their own business.
Starting your own business is more attractive than ever, and more and more people are arriving at business school with successful self-employment in mind. There’ll always be the cookie-cutter types, and that’s fine. They make the corporate world turn, after all. But is an MBA the best preparation for the budding Richard Bransons and Elon Musks out there?
If you build your own corporation rather than joining an existing one, eventually you’ll be able to hire people to do all the scientific management stuff. So maybe you don’t need to fill your own head with it. Henry Ford would approve of that idea.
Business schools are listening to these truths, and some are reimagining the MBA for the entrepreneurial age. Aurore Hochard, Head of Entrepreneurship Programmes at Cass Business School in London and a former entrepreneur herself, believes new courses like these are the future. Cass runs a 1-year MSc in Entrepreneurship that offer a stripped-down, hands-on approach to learning to start, run and grow your own business.
“When I was an entrepreneur myself, I used to think you couldn’t teach it,” says Hochard.
“But later I realised a lot of the mistakes I made could have been avoided, if I’d had a course like this”.
For quick learners who are really keen to put the pedal to the metal, there are shorter courses like Wharton’s series on entrepreneurship.