Cause and Effect, MBA Style.

There’s some discussion going around about the value of an MBA degree – a topic I have an opinion on, although strictly speaking, my opinion on the topic really isn’t important here.  What is important is that those who believe that the top schools give you value for your money in MBA land have published an article on the topic.

MBA Pay: The $3.6 Million dollar degree

What is somewhat confusing to me is that the authors of the article assume that going to the best school is responsible for the high salary.   It may not be a bad assumption, really, but I don’t think it has been demonstrated.

First, the “best” schools are the ones that can be most selective about the students they accept – and have the highest bars to entry (cost, connections, etc) that any student who wants to attend has to pass.  Personally, I think that this really indicates that:

  1. You are selecting students who already have great networks
  2. You are selecting students who are already skilled in many of the positive attributes of good managers. (Great communicators, clear thinkers, etc)

Thus, it shouldn’t be a surprise that these students go on to command high salaries, and are able to get great jobs.   Simply attending an MBA program may add value in terms of fulfilling the qualifications required for some positions, but does it really matter where you go?  Do you learn different things at different schools?  Or is this simply a matter that the top X% of the students go to the best schools and then those individuals are the most highly sought after regardless because of the skills they bring in with them?

Anyhow, I wonder what would happen if the employers didn’t know the names of the schools, or if the salaries for the dropouts from each school were to be compared.

It looks great that the name of the degree gets you the top dollars, but I would love to see that demonstrated beyond a simple correlation.

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