Two books which challenge the current way educational institutions organize themselves are now out, and they are both a fascinating read. Rakesh Khurana’s book From Higher Aims to Hired Hands traces the evolution and development of business schools and observes that they have more or less abandoned the professionalization of managers as a goal. He questions the long run viability of the current model. The other fascinating read is by Anthony T. Kronman, and is called Education’s End: Why our colleges and universities have given up on the meaning of life. While his focus is on liberal arts schools, not business schools, there are eerie parallels between his argument and Khurana’s. In both cases, they observe that the adoption of the German University model for faculties, in which research and scholarly publication are key to promotion and tenure of professors, has diverted university faculty from important social and community goals.
How to change the trajectory of our educational institutions? I’ll be making some suggestions in the upcoming December issue of the Academy of Management Review. Khurana recommends reviving a goal of producing professional managers (though is a tad skeptical of how this might be done). Kronman anticipates a revival of traditional humanism. Weigh in on the debate!