Sometime last week, my son, fresh from high school and agonizing over what to do for college, suddenly asked me, “Dad, what is a b-school?”
At first blush, I was tempted to say that a b-school is where people learn how to make B movies. But I thought it too smart alecky and off the mark, so I decided to be on the safe side by asking, “Why do you ask?”
“Well,” he added, “some of my classmates are excitedly talking about going to a b-school for college.”
“I really don’t know son, but I will check and get back to you soon,” gently closing the issue, tacitly admitting that fathers don’t know everything.
So I hurriedly referred to that bottomless source of information, the Internet. And, voila! There it is.
What is a b-school?
A b-school is the nerdy term (akin to html, php, seo, meta tags, linking, tweeting, etc) for business school. I call it “nerdy” because it is coined in the current electronic age and simply did not exist when I was my son’s age.
But then and now, a b-school or business school is school that offers programs centered around business studies.
Most of the university business schools are faculties, colleges or departments within the university, teaching predominantly business courses.
In North America, a business school is often a university graduate school offering Masters in Business Administration or equivalent degrees.
It can also mean a two-year program that grants the Associate’s degree in various business subjects.
In Europe andAsia, some universities teach only business.
Typically a business course can be an undergraduate program leading to a BBA (Bachelor in Business Administration), graduate studies leading to MBA (Masters in Business Administration) or Executive MBA, and Doctoral studies.
The evolution of b-schools:
The emergence of b-schools is a necessary offshoot of man’s desire to make money in the exchange of goods and services.
Though business and its intentions remain the same since The Aula do Comercio inLisbon,Portugal, which, in 1759, is the first institution to specialize in the teaching of commerce, its modes and methods of teaching and its theories and principles have changed so much over the years. .
What first started as an academic endeavor within the campuses of age-old universities and institutions, soon found its way off-campus, then through correspondence and now, through online teaching.
Then, in 2010, the SKEMA Business School(School of Knowledge Economy and Management) became the first business school to offer business courses and degrees in China, France, Morocco, Australia and many others. It is the first French Business School to open a campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.A.
The Internet has made business very dynamic. This dynamism will put a tremendous pressure on b-schools to keep in step if they hope to attract the best and the brightest of enrollees.
What attracts people to b-schools?
The business theories and principles taught in b-schools attract people for several reasons. Among them are:
– For students, the potential to land juicy management positions after graduation;
– For entrepreneurs, to be able to manage their business better;
– For corporate guys, to increase their promotability or improve their management skills;
– For those in marketing, to set buying trends or innovate products whose business cycles are approaching obsolescence;
– For those in other sciences, to establish the business value of their undertakings;
– For those in public service, to influence government policy decisions on matters that can sometimes affect our lives.
Whereas a country’s direction is set by policy-makers, how to get there is purely business. A deep knowledge in business can:
– Squeeze a country’s finances bone-dry;
– Support or bring down governments;
– Buy politicians who, more often than not, are just too willing to oblige.
Every now and then things get screwed up, i.e., the currency crisis in 1997, the recent near credit-default of theU.S. a few months back and the current economic crisis inEurope, are but a few examples. When they do, politicians are simply booted out of office by democratic means or by bloody coups.
The CEOs? In good business times or bad, they continue to receive fat bonuses and expensive perks. In very rare situations, where their stay at the corporate helm is untenable, they are given separation pays that will support them comfortably for a lifetime.
Occasionally, one or two land in jail, though.