Friday, June 17, 2011

Toronto Star columnist about business school journals: "Do us all a favour; don't publish."

David Olive, a business columnist at the Toronto Star (and at one time editor-in-chief of  Report on Business magazine) recently took a poke on his blog at business schools who publish their own management journals. He was prompted by an article he dissects from the well-known Harvard Business Review, but he's clearly aiming at other biz school journals as well, including ones closer to home.
His criticisms range from the conflicted nature of business school faculty contributors who are also corporate directors and consultants to the fact that they are often five year's behind the curve in the things they write about.  He goes on about the often leaden prose in such journals:
Those who can't write teach. To paraphrase FDR's father on the superior ethics of Republicans, I'm not saying all lousy writers are teachers. But all teachers are lousy writers. There are just enough exceptions to the rule to allow for the justly influential writing of academics like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich in the MSM. But more's the pity since it opens the door to academics who couldn't write a compelling sentence even with the inducement of free Super Bowl tickets.
...The b-school journal's editor - what a thankless job - is obliged, notwithstanding the above, to publish impenetrable works by the faculty. This is a political affair, of course. The editor can dress things up with a Q&A with Paul Volcker or Bill Gates, but to spare an uptick in unruly faculty meetings the rest of the book must be taken up with the dry husks of faculty contributions. University politics are more bitter than other varieties because, as it has often been said, so little is at stake. 
Olive also says 
I suppose if they put me in charge I'd scrap the flagship b-school journal, if not the school itself, and use the funds to ensure that a well-rounded liberal arts education was more widely available to aspiring students in financial need. Matt Barrett, whose CEO tenure at Bank of Montreal was marked by 10 successive years of increased revenue and profit, was often given to saying his ideal hire would be a college graduate steeped in Chaucer and Emily Dickinson.
"It is far more important that a student graduate from university having read Danteā€¦ than understanding the practice of double-entry accounting," said Barrett, who after ramping up BMO's profits went on to do the same at the larger Barclays PLC of Britain.



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