The Book

Business Schools Face Test of Faith.” “Is It Time to Retrain B-Schools?

As these headlines make clear, business education is at a major crossroads.

For decades, MBA graduates from top-tier schools set the standard for cutting-edge business knowledge and skills. Now the business world has changed, say the authors of Rethinking the MBA, and MBA programs must change with it. Increasingly, managers and recruiters are questioning conventional business education.

“One of the most important books on business education in many years, Rethinking the MBA is deeply thoughtful and compelling, and a rich source of constructive ideas that will reshape business education. Any business leader who cares about the development of our future leaders needs to read this book.”

rethinkingthembabookDaniel Vasella, MD, Chairman, and CEO, Novartis AG

Their concerns? Among other things, MBA programs aren’t giving students heightened cultural awareness and global perspectives they need. Newly minted MBAs lack essential leadership skills. Creative and critical thinking demands far more attention.

In this compelling and authoritative new book, the authors:

  • Document a rising chorus of concerns about business schools gleaned from extensive interviews with deans and executives, and from a detailed analysis of current curricula and emerging trends in graduate business education
  • Provide case studies showing how leading MBA programs have begun reinventing themselves for the better
  • Offer concrete ideas for how business schools can surmount the challenges that come with reinvention, including securing faculty with new skills and experimenting with new pedagogies

Rich with examples and thoroughly researched, Rethinking the MBA reveals why and how business schools must define a better pathway for the future.

The Authors

Srikant M. Datar is the Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate, Director of Research at Harvard Business School. A graduate with distinction from the University of Bombay, he graduated with gold medals from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India.

David A. Garvin is the C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He joined the HBS faculty in 1979 and has taught courses in leadership, general management, and operations in the MBA and Advanced Management Programs. He currently serves as faculty chair of the School’s Teaching and Learning Center.
A summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard College, he earned a Ph.D. in economics from M.I.T. in 1979.

Patrick Cullen is a Research Associate at Harvard Business School. The author of a number of HBS  case studies, Cullen holds a PhD in Management from the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: A Degree in Transition
  2. The Changing MBA Marketplace
  3. A Close Look at the Curriculum
  4. A Rising Chorus of Concerns
  5. Meeting the Challenges of Globalization, Leadership, and Integration
  6. Innovations in Pedagogy and Course Design
  7. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business: Flexibility and the Discipline-Based Approach
  8. INSEAD: The Credo of Globalization
  9. The Center for Creative Leadership: Leadership Development at the Core
  10. Harvard Business School: General Management and the Focus on Practice
  11. Yale School of Management: Integration and Large-Scale Change
  12. Stanford Graduate School of Business: Customization and Large-Scale Change
  13. Business Schools at a Crossroads


“Stunningly comprehensive. A long-overdue look at the way in which B-schools are educating business professionals, and a compelling call to action to rethink how institutions are training tomorrow’s leaders. Executives will find their recommendations to be relevant, practical, and refreshing.”
Gail McGovern, President, and CEO, American Red Cross

“Rethinking the MBA is easily the best and most interesting account yet written of the current critique of business education and leading business schools’ efforts to respond. This book should provide valuable reading not only for management professors and corporate executives but for educators in other professional schools as well.”
Derek Bok, professor and former President, Harvard University

“One of the most important books on business education in many years, Rethinking the MBA is deeply thoughtful and compelling, and a rich source of constructive ideas that will reshape business education. Any business leader who cares about the development of our future leaders needs to read this book.”
Daniel Vasella, MD, Chairman and CEO, Novartis AG

“Based on in-depth interviews with business school deans who train MBAs—and business executives who employ them—as well as an impressive amount of hard data, Rethinking the MBA is a thoughtful and important book. It is must reading for anyone concerned with the future of business education.”
Richard Schmalensee, Dean Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management

“This book will become the bible for transforming management education and leadership development. Incisive in its criticism, at once rigorously analytical and stirringly aspirational, the authors take you from an opening chorus of warning to a closing crescendo of cutting-edge practices.”
Scott Cook, Chairman of the Executive Committee and Founder, Intuit Inc.

“Rethinking the MBA provides a comprehensive, quantitative reality check on the current state of business education. It calls for a much-needed rebalancing of the curriculum from a focus primarily on analytic skills to creative skills. A must-read for business educators and business students alike.”
Elizabeth Bailey, professor, The Wharton School; former Dean, Carnegie Mellon Business School

“Rethinking the MBA provides both the empirical foundation and the conceptual insight necessary for understanding contemporary business education. Its pragmatic and concrete analyses and recommendations make this book exceptionally useful for anyone thinking about graduate business education.”
Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business