To some degree, MBA programs are advanced driving schools. We teach students how to operate one of the most powerful engines in the world: business. We teach how this engine must be finely engineered (operations), how it needs special fuel (finance), and how the parts need to work together (organization and leadership). We teach how to monitor the gauges carefully (accounting), how to steer our vehicles at high speeds and through rough weather (strategy).
Extending the metaphor, we have, in recent years, updated our curricula with modules on Why do we drive?an existential question answered by legal principles such as fiduciary duties, philosophy, social norms, and even faith-based traditions like Catholic social theory. Why drives the recognition that businesses have responsibilities not only to shareholders but also to customers, employees, the communities in which they operate, and future generations. This discussion is healthy and overdue.
To torture the metaphor just a bit more, we're missing one step: Exactly where should our graduates head? Business schools have been largely agnostic on this question.
Our failure to address where has subverted the evaluation of business schools and the content of our programs. Salary and salary growth, to a large degree, are key factors determining where MBA programs find themselves on various rankings by publications. Implicitly, this approach dictates where: Send your graduates to the highest-paying jobs...