The Master of Business Administration (MBA) was created and delivered by the (then) Harvard University Graduate School of Business over a century ago to develop the capabilities of businessmen (and it was all men). The aim was to help organisations navigate through the challenges emerging from the march of industrialisation. Thus, management science became a discipline of formal study rather than traditional ‘on-the-job’ learning.
Now, the MBA is at the forefront in a global economy shifting to respond to a pandemic-induced schism characterised by reviewed notions of what work is, how it is done, and who does it. The place of organisations inside communities is being scrutinised with a holistic examination of social licences. The MBA has rarely faced such a challenge to illustrate how the ambiguity, urgency and gravity of events unfolding across the world are of influence.
While we have long seen MBA learning as a premier platform upon which business capability is built, maintaining its relevance and quality requires constant review. In a market saturated with MBA programs, the challenge is ensuring that content and outcomes are relevant and connected to the capabilities demanded in an environment grappling with the next industrial age. Just as Taylorist theories of efficiency enlightened businesses from the early 1900s, the fabric of today’s MBA should be woven with threads binding economics with humanity, ethics with profit motive, and community interest with innovation and ingenuity, for example.
Arguably, MBA students, as current and future business leaders, should not undertake study to benefit only themselves and their colleagues. Instead, their capacity to question, critique, and perhaps reject traditional notions of business operation and endeavour should also be used for the greater public good. Such an approach requires learning infused with an outward-looking perspective that goes beyond lasting western paradigms and bias-laden concepts of organisational operation to those that include diversity and belonging.
The UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) offer a framework for MBA content and philosophy. Although, arguably, the intangible qualities that make a contemporary MBA program resonate are found in fusing intellectual curiosity with investigative intensity and empathy with a dash of healthy scepticism – all combined with confident creativity.
Knowing theory is not as beneficial as understanding how it can be used, modified, or discarded to generate better value for a broader range of stakeholders. Generating knowledge is not as significant as sharing insight, and establishing a career in business might not be as profound as creating a positive legacy. MBA programs have a responsibility to go beyond delivering education and issuing qualifications to inform how our communities work to benefit those beyond the confines of organisational boundaries, including those within them.
The University of Tasmania’s (UTAS) new MBA and Executive MBA provides the professional capabilities you need to make ethical decisions that can enhance the experience of the workforce, better recognise community expectations, and positively influence the trajectory of your organisation.
Building on existing managerial expertise, the new UTAS offerings mean you can tailor your MBA experience to accelerate your career aspirations to senior leadership roles. You can specialise in Leadership and Organisational Capability, Organisational Resilience, or Sustainable Business, or a mix of units from each specialisation.
UTAS offers people the chance to become a leader for our time and into the future here: https://www.utas.edu.au/study/business-administration