It seems, then, that straight theory-based training is not all
the rage at business schools these days. James A. Goodrich,
associate dean of the Graziadio School of Business and Management
at Pepperdine, suggests that MBA students today are learning mainly
how to deal with change in their prospective business ventures.
"It's certainly different from when I was in school,"
says Goodrich. "Now I think there's more of an assumption
that you're going to have to do this [in your
Goodrich also notes that while there is still an emphasis on the
basics of business-building, like financing and accounting, there
is a growing trend toward the strategic side of business-with an
emphasis on going global. "There is less of a focus on the
mechanics," he says. "[For example,] students think about
studying abroad-they're looking outward more."
As far as learning by doing, the Pepperdine MBA program seems to
combine the best of both worlds-sound business training with
a combined emphasis on the practical (i.e., inviting serial
entrepreneurs and real-life business owners into the classroom to
teach). As Goodrich puts it, "the school of hard
So is learning by doing the way to go? Not necessarily,
according to Goodrich. "I'm of two minds about that,"
he says. "Bill Gates doesn't have an MBA, but he hires
MBAs. I suspect that in reality, more people will continue to [sign
up for MBA programs]."
The truth about entrepreneurship is that it's ever-changing
and constantly growing. If you choose to get an MBA or you'd
rather learn at your own pace from a special mentor, there's
one thing that all great entrepreneurs (and great people) know: No
matter how much you know, there is always more to learn.
|e-Biz Education After the Fall|
The rise and fall of the dotcoms: good idea.go
public...millionaires...dreams come true...market flood...money
loss...layoffs...dreams dashed. OK, perhaps that's a bit of a
simplification of a very complex economic process. But whatever the
case, now that the get-rich-quick dotcom bubble has burst,
entrepreneurial education is left with a question: How do you teach
e-business after the fallout? Many top-notch business schools that
reported booms in e-business classes in the late '90s are
reporting a decreasing interest in such classes now. Does that mean
e-business classes are a thing of the past?
Not quite, according to Jeff Shuman, director of entrepreneurial
studies at Bentley
College in Waltham, Massachusetts. "The e-biz designator
has gone away from business essentially," he says. "If
you're going to teach business today, you have to teach
technology. It's an integral component. It's fundamentally
changing how companies operate."
Concerning the e-biz boom and the rise in interest in all things
Web-related, Shuman is clear: "For a lot of folks, there was a
suspension of reality when it came to what it really takes to run
and build a successful business. I'm of the view that a lot of
people who got interested in entrepreneurship...like it was
guaranteed wealth creation, they've gone away. My attitude is,
'Great, they never belonged here in the first place,'
because they weren't interested in building a successful
business-they were only interested in getting rich
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This article was originally published in the December 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Can You Learn to Start a Business?.
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