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Is an MBA Still Necessary?

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This story appears in the October 2012 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It used to be that top corporations picked up MBA graduates as fast as schools could slap mortarboards on their heads. These young guns drove corporate reorganization, product innovation and marketing and implemented new styles of leadership. They were a symbol of a new culture, and anyone serious about a career in business aspired to earn those three letters.

Today, the power of the MBA is not so certain. Many in corporate America and academia say the degree that once defined bright, snappy leadership now symbolizes a discipline that has lost touch with the business world. They argue that MBA programs have become too focused on research, and that in-house training at large firms has more practical applications. They claim the programs have failed to create the types of leaders who can deal with globalization; some say they don't develop leaders at all, just functionaries. Other critics think a focus on profit and share value, rather than on ethics and sustainability, fostered the type of narrow-minded thinking that led to the fall of Enron and the last recession.

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