Who Really Benefits from an Executive MBA? | TopMBA.com

Who Really Benefits from an Executive MBA?

By Ann Graham

Updated February 1, 2016 Updated February 1, 2016

Business executives may often find themselves in the firing line when hard decisions need to be made, deadlines aren’t met, deals fall through and restructuring announcements result in unsettled staff. In the wake of an economic or financial crisis, such as that of 2008, they can also be blamed for irresponsible behavior and unethical acts – putting profits before social responsibility.

There is no denying that professionals in the global banking sector have indulged in greedy and dishonest behavior, and some of these professionals do hold an MBA, but is business education really to blame for such acts of selfishness?

Are business education and social responsibility incompatible?

Some would argue yes. Studies have shown a correlation between studying economics and selfish behavior, ranging from economics professors giving less to charity than their counterparts in other disciplines, to economic students viewing greed as acceptable. Other research establishes a link between business studies and a lack of empathy and social responsibility, with finance students demonstrating the lowest levels of empathy toward fellow humans in the study. Then there is the issue of cheating among business students, highlighted when Duke suspended or expelled 24 MBA students for cheating on the 2008 exam (though such incidents can be found across all subjects).

But for each study or example depicting the view of dishonesty among business students, there is one indicating students embarking on business education do not show signs of a deficit in terms of social responsibility compared other students, before, during or after the program.

In short, scientific results are inconclusive. But what about deciding to go to business school? Is that a selfish act in itself?  

Weighing up the EMBA sacrifice

It’s no secret that an EMBA comes at a high cost to those supporting a candidate – family, friends, employers, team members. Embarking on an EMBA is time consuming and costly; business schools repeatedly advise prospective candidates that sacrifices will have to be made.

Acquiring a business degree also requires focus on the self and a certain introspective lens towards career advancement. It demands setting priorities that may not always be in the interest of friends, family or the employer of the EMBA candidate. The cost, in terms of money, time and effort, can also be substantial – all of which will affect not just the candidate, but those around them too.

However, one should also consider the executive MBA ROI. Yes, the EMBA candidate themselves will benefit from a greater salary, career advancement, and entrepreneurial skills. But the EMBA candidate’s family and friends are also likely to benefit from each of these outcomes as well, while an employer will benefit from the enhanced skillset, and team members can draw on the broader perspective their colleague now brings to the table. Executive MBA ROI, therefore, benefits all of those around the newly minted graduate.

In the long-run, an executive MBA education is a win-win for all involved in terms of financial prospects, work-life balance, job satisfaction and opportunities.

Social responsibility in the classroom

Ethical behavior and social responsibility are hot topics in the business school classroom. This has come about on part because of the global financial crisis and other incidents around the world, but also in response to changes in outlook – from candidates, employers and the schools themselves.

China’s top business school, CEIBS, for example, rewards altruistic behavior by giving out a social responsibility award to EMBA students who have engaged in outstanding charitable activities during the two-year EMBA period. Activities might include volunteering, making donations, environmental activities, or fighting against social injustices or disasters. The awards work toward instilling an awareness of responsibility for society at large and less privileged communities among EMBA students.

An EMBA – what you make of it?

Candidates embarking on an executive MBA degree are ambitious by nature. They’re determined, motivated, strong-minded and resolute. They have to be to survive and excel in the demanding environment that is the EMBA classroom. Yes, these candidates are studying for an EMBA to better themselves, to further their career, climb up the management ladder and create a profitable business, of their own or their employers. But does that make them selfish by definition?

Upon graduation, when the candidate uses his or her newly acquired knowledge to establish a nonprofit, this can hardly be deemed a selfish act. When the newly accredited EMBA graduate receives a promotion, opening up a position for a fellow team member to rise up the ranks, is this an act of selfishness? What about when the EMBA student’s class project benefits his/her employer, thus establishing a new and efficient system? Selfish or not? Will the MBA ROI be shared around and enjoyed by others?

Business education is what schools and students make of it. 

This article was originally published in January 2015 . It was last updated in February 2016

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Written by

Ann Graham - TopMBA.com blogger and author


Related Articles Last year

Most Shared Last year

Most Read Last year