The MBA degree has been studied, evaluated, and criticized from many different angles. Scholars and practitioners alike have noted the challenges facing business schools as they address the current state and prepare for the future state of the MBA. Stakeholders from within and outside of the academy have assessed and debated the optimal path forward for ensuring quality and equality across recruiting and admissions, curriculum development, student experience, and the impact of the degree on the careers of graduates. This study addressed these elements by seeking to understand how MBA input factors influence post-MBA career success; how widely accepted extrinsic measures of career success relate to intrinsic measures; how the MBA impacts compensation and other success factors; and how these key measures and outcomes may differ between women and men. To achieve this purpose, this study followed a quantitative approach utilizing a custom survey instrument. The research participants included nearly 800 graduates of 41 top-ranked business schools in the U.S. and Europe who graduated between 2005 and 2015. Findings revealed that the MBA degree develops human capital in the form of key competencies that are desired by employers, and that graduates highly value the social capital acquired in the form of new relationships and networks. When examining the link between pre-MBA inputs and post-MBA outputs, the results were mixed, with some common measures of a candidate’s qualifications such as years of work experience shown to have no relationship (or even an inverse relationship) to outcomes. The study also addressed the return on the investment of the MBA. Results showed that the degree does have a significant positive impact on compensation growth; however, men earn higher compensation, on average, than women at all three points of time included in this study (pre-MBA, first post-MBA, and current). Further comparisons between men and women indicated that male MBA graduates have achieved greater career advancement, span of control within the organization, career satisfaction, and other key extrinsic and intrinsic career outcomes. Despite these differences, both men and women possess a strong self-concept and belief in their abilities to be successful in business.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. November 2016. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Carol Carrier. 1 computer file (PDF); xiii, 195 pages.
Women, Men, and the MBA: A Quantitative Assessment of the Impact of the MBA Degree on the Extrinsic and Intrinsic Career Outcomes of Graduates.
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