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Creating decision-ready MBAs

January 16, 2012 by

GMAT Blog“I want to see MBAs who can jump in and make decisions, not jump in and learn to make decisions.”

– Henry Kravis, co-founder, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts


If you haven’t already, at some point during your MBA you’ll catch wind of the case study controversy.  Well, controversy might be a tad hyperbolic, but there is definitely a strong contingent that derides their use and usefulness in training effective managers.  Columbia Business School entered the fray in 2008, not to add more verbal fuel to the fire, but rather offer an actual solution, or, at minimum, an alternative.

Led by Columbia’s dean, R. Glenn Hubbard, the institution devised an approach which utilizes a “decision brief” rather than the traditional case study.  Unlike a case study, decision briefs provide limited information from which students must make a decision.  Only after their decision is made do students receive the rest of the information.  This information packet includes the reasoning and results of the decision as it was actually made in the real-world instance from which the brief was drawn.  Then, students may endeavor to compare and contrast their efforts and final call with reality.

The decision brief approach was launched in the summer of 2008 and Columbia’s CaseWorks initiative continues to crank out new offerings.  Keep your eyes peeled for these decision briefs in your eventual curriculum and decide for yourself which teaching technique is more effective in creating the types of MBAs Mr. Kravis refers to in the opening quote of this post.


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