Do You Need an Education to Succeed in Business?
The controversy over whether or not one needs an education to achieve business success is not a new one but is an area of continuing concern to individuals and businesses alike.
In fact, more than twenty years ago an article on the subject by J. Sterline Livingstone in the Harvard Business Review attracted a record number of letters of comment, both pro and con, on the subject.
In many countries, third world countries and even developed countries today, we notice a significant rise in the demand for educated graduates, particularly MBAs, in business organizations looking to the future. The experiences of the hiring organizations will no doubt be strongly colored by the hopes and expectations that have fueled their drive to hire such profiles.
Many of those doing the hiring and who are building great hopes on the results they expect those young MBAs to deliver are themselves not holders of business school degrees. Will their hopes be fulfilled or will they be disappointed? No doubt, like most other things in real life, the results will be mixed.
I would like to share some thoughts on the subject. First, let us look at how MBA holders are rated in many third world countries. No doubt, those that hold degrees from foreign universities hold the highest prestige. Those with both a foreign degree and foreign experience hold even more prestige. When, however, these persons are hired things begin to look rather different. First, the expectations of the graduates are dashed when they see how much still has to be done before third world organizations can offer them the kind of administrative infrastructure support they had become habituated to expect.
They quickly realize that they have to rely on themselves and on their resourcefulness to solve problems which they had taken for granted before. Those with flexibility and foresight adapt and manage to do very well both for themselves and for the organizations that hire them. Those who lack the necessary level of adaptability and flexibility simply become disgruntled critics of their home country and eventually return to the country they had originally left to return to the specific third world country.
The second most sought after group are the graduates of local American-style universities. These persons are hired with the hope that they will very soon be able to fill a number of managerial and leadership vacancies within the hiring organization. Soon, however, comes the awakening that these persons generally have no practical working experience, some are arrogant because of their learning, others are impatient to reach the top for the same reason, but it is evident that they need more time than had been deemed necessary. The hiring organization soon realizes that they do in fact need to work between three to five years before these young graduates have acquired the necessary experience and management skills to take over jobs with a high level of responsibility. Often both parties are disappointed because their expectations are not met. The employers are disappointed because they find that these persons often know less than what they had expected and the employees because they realize that it will not be as easy as they thought to advance rapidly to the top.
The third category are person who come from other local universities or foreign universities in other developing countries. These persons are regarded as providing staffing for supervisory jobs and department heads.