M.B.A. debate: ou either love 'em or hate 'em

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Apparently, M.B.A.s in corporate offices aren't much more popular than the one in the White House.

A majority of Advertising Age online-poll respondents-58%-believe M.B.A.s make worse marketers than those who don't hold the degree. But the 42% who supported M.B.A.s as marketers gave them a higher approval rating than Harvard M.B.A. George W. Bush has had in recent polls.

"Of the six marketers I have had to fire in over 20 years in the business of corporate marketing, five were M.B.A.s," said Luis Portiansky, director-marketing at MWE, New York. "The degree can sometimes lead to arrogance, overthinking and 'know it all' syndrome," he said.

Others saw more value from M.B.A.s in finance vs. marketing. "Marketing, to the extent it can be taught, should be taught as a history, not a dogma," said Tom Messner, partner in Havas' Euro RSCG, New York.

But several M.B.A.s leapt to their own defense, and questioned the methodology of the study that prompted the poll question-and how it was reported in Ad Age (see Letters, P. 22).

"One of the things that they teach in business school is that correlation does not equal causation," said Kevin McTigue, account management executive with Omnicom Group's Energy BBDO, Chicago. "Maybe underperforming firms hired more M.B.A.s because their business was failing."

But even a few M.B.A.s found fault with the degrees. "I have an M.B.A. from 1968 when they meant something," said Bart Foreman, president of Group 3 Marketing, Wayzata, Minn. "[Young M.B.A.s] have little practical experience and none of them understand direct marketing (my specialty)."
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