Monday, February 23, 2004

Management Education vs. Management Literacy

One more batch of MBA graduates is passing out now. And I was thinking about the learning that I have derived - in the process of teaching - during last couple of years or so... There are of course, many personal learnings, but on a conceptual level, one which became so obvious was the difference between literacy and education.

A literate knows how to read and write, can add and substract, etc. But that's it. S/he may not necessarily know where and how to apply and leverage these skills. More importantly, s/he does not know the "meaning" of what s/he has learned - and therefore, is unable to stretch those skills to apply to other domains of living.

If one is able to do these (apply skills to other domains of living, know the context/context of what one has learned, and is able to use what one has learned to make life's decisions, etc.), only then can one be caled educated (Ok, these are my definitions, but they do help to see the difference).

In that sense, a large number of MBA graduates merely acquire "management literacy" - they know the latest terms, frameworks, formula, etc., but very, very few actually stretch themeselves to apply these to other domains (other than the quizzes and exams)... which is somewhat sad, given that most of them are bright people, and will be taking decisions which will affect others...

One way to understand this situation is to believe that once people start working, they also learn to apply these skills, understand the context, etc., and so, become educated. But I don't think that lack of work-experience is the only rationale of this state-of-affairs. It has, in my understanding, something to do with the premium value (mainly in terms of its earning potential) which is given to the MBA degree, and which attracts a large number of people who are just looking for a nice lucrative job - and not towards becoming a professsional.

No comments: