What business schools should teach these daysIn the recessionary times of failing firms and factory closings, business schools are faced with this dilemma: What do you teach when there is no business?
By: Dale McFeatters, The Dickinson Press
In the recessionary times of failing firms and factory closings, business schools are faced with this dilemma: What do you teach when there is no business?
The Wall Street Journal addressed this question in “Recession 101: Courses for a Crisis,” which told how business schools are revamping their curriculums to focus on weathering a downturn: We would say the business schools are a little late to that party, but no matter.
Stanford and Harvard jointly offer “Leading Change and Organizational Renewal,” a course that can’t possibly be as snooze-inducing as its title. Over at NYU, they’re offering “Raising Leadership IQ” — talk about being late to the party.
Anat Lechner, the professor who designed that course, told the Journal it can combat unprecedented uncertainty and prevent leaders from “freaking out” in the downturn. Personally, I want whoever is running my 401(k) to be freaking out. I am.
While these courses, I’m sure, offer a broad vision of the wreckage-littered business landscape, I’m thinking the schools should be offering courses of a more practical nature in the current business environment. I’m happy to help out with a few suggestions.
Mock Bankruptcy Court: Taught by graduates of Lehman Brothers and required of all seniors. Required reading: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Students will prepare bankruptcy filings and learn to defend them with a straight face before an actual judge. Prerequisite: Asset concealment.
Congressional Testimony 101 and 102: Business leaders are regularly summoned to testify before Congress. Students will learn to patiently and impassively sit through abuse from clods with half their smarts until the moment is right to ask for $20 billion for your company from the taxpayers. Required reading: “Defending the Corporate Jet.”
Basic Immigration Law: Illegal aliens make good employees. They work hard and don’t expect much in the way of pay. Not everybody, principally the U.S. government, thinks hiring them is a good idea. How to keep your illegal aliens happy and out of sight. You’ll learn such tested techniques as: “Who? Them? Oh, that’s the community-college Spanish Club. We let them use our chicken-processing plan for their meetings.”
Ponzi Schemes for Fun and Profit: These investment instruments have been unfairly tarnished just because some investors get completely wiped out. But a good Ponzi is unrivaled as a quick way to build personal wealth — yours. As with all business matters, timing is everything, and our instructors, who because of unresolved legal questions must tele-teach from overseas, will have you going out the back door as the SEC is coming in the front. Meets in Room 1B of the Madoff Building.
Getaway Destinations: Strongly recommended for students who took Ponzi Schemes. Students will use the Internet and legal reference works to research destinations that have opaque banking laws and no extradition treaties. North Korea and Somalia are not as bad as people make out, and there’s a lot to be said for Burkina Faso. Really.
Because of certain financial exigencies, all course work must be paid for in advance.
— McFeatters writes for Scripps Howard News Service.