Are MBAs Arrogant, Overpaid, and Worthless?

Business Schools Are Teaching the Future of Work

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a new topic to the business school curriculum: the future of work.

In these courses, MBAs are learning about how the pandemic spurred new working models, changed workplaces, and highlighted worker inequalities. Bloomberg recently explored how top business schools, including Columbia, MIT, and Stanford, are teaching MBAs about the future of work.

“The pandemic laid bare how disempowered people are. We saw so many frontline workers not even get basic concessions, like paid leave for COVID,” Anna Stansbury, Assistant Professor of Work and Organization Studies at MIT, says. “So there’s a huge interest in figuring out how we can make the system work better.”

DEVELOPING EMPATHIC LEADERS

The goal of these courses is to ensure that tomorrow’s leaders can understand the impact that their decisions will have on workers. But the future of work is an ever-evolving topic—and even professors aren’t aligned on how exactly to teach it.

“Right now there’s so much disagreement and heat around this topic,” Brian Lowery, a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, says. “A big part of this is to create a space for these conversations and to prepare our students to think about these issues, because they will make decisions that will affect a lot of people’s lives.”

At Columbia Business School, a course titled the “Future of Work: Strategy & Leadership” includes the following course description:

“In 2020 the world found itself accelerated into the future of work (FoW) across multiple dimensions — challenging business leaders to expand their thinking, strategies and the models they apply to work, workforces, and workplaces. In the coming years, this acceleration will be combined with disruption leading to the re-ordering of business models, workforce ecosystems, and how people and technology partner together.”

Despite the complexities around how exactly to teach the future of work, experts are aligned on the importance of teaching such a topic in B-school.

“The issues we are working on are C-suite questions,” Anne-Claire Roesch, a Deloitte workplace consultant teaching Cornell University’s future of work course, says. “Ten years ago, human resources was not a C-suite question. That’s why we need this to be part of the curriculum.”

Sources: Bloomberg, Columbia University

Next Page: A look at Columbia Business School’s new curriculum.

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