Geographies on the move – Should business schools be abolished?

Every summer, thousands of students gamble to prepare for their return to business school. But the echo of Martin Parker’s article in the “Guardian” still resonates. Doesn’t this teaching in business and finance have its share of responsibility in the current economic crisis?

In a thunderous gallery, Why we should bulldoze the business school, dated April 27, 2018 published in The Guardian and available in French on Paul Jorion’s blog, Martin Parker is not going four ways: “There are 13,000 business schools in the world, that’s 13,000 too many. I know what I’m talking about since I taught in these schools for 20 years.»

The advent of the “new world” after Covid-19, with the increasingly serious consequences of a crisis aggravated by global warming, poses a dilemma for many students: should we integrate a
business school ? The testimonies of former students that appeared after Jorion’s blog post are damning.

Pack capitalism

Parker talks about “deception“To evoke the disappointment of employers, conservatives who consider the alumni of these schools as”pushy“, Europeans complaining of the vulgarity of”businessAmerican, the radicals pointing the “Pack capitalism”. “Many since 2008 have put forward the idea that business schools are responsible for the onset of the crisis. The question that is asked again in 2020.

Martin Parker is surprised that the criticisms of schools often come from the schools themselves: teacher-researchers complaining of a “corruption by money-guided deans», By professors bending to the expectations of clients, by researchers tired of publishing to satisfy bibliometrics, by students hoping for a diploma that will recover the money they have invested. Because “in the end most of the graduates anyway will not become high level executives but will occupy precarious positions of small soldiers working in boxes inside a sanitized tower. “

Leaders practicing the headlong rush?

We agree: these criticisms come mainly from people who “feel uncomfortable or even disgusted with what they are doing“. They are surprised that the schools remain “indifferent»To the doubt that assailed them, even if the very changing geography of their associations which made illegible a map of business schools in France from one decade to another, testifies, for some, of a updating, for others of a headlong rush.

Publications against these schools are however violent. Parker quotes one of them referring to “a carcinogenic machine producing unnecessary and toxic waste ”. Or titles such as: “Against management“. The answers are the same everywhere: we make the “responsibility” or “ethics“While” lThe schools only teach one form of organization: market management supervision ” making false heroes who display their performance in millions of euros, without fear of showing how they escaped tax (by the beautiful hypocrisy of “tax optimization“) Or sold”an ideology in the guise of science

Despite their American ideology, the first school was established in Paris in 1819 on private funds. The model flourished in the United States and went global after 1950. They would be more than 13,000 schools in the world, India alone with 3000 that would be private. Billions of euros circulate in the name of this business education.

The places are emblematic of a unique form of thought with a constant recourse to slogans (“We mean business»), Pictures of models, lists of diplomas as long as gowns. They are felted, are supposed to give confidence. But Parker squeals, student money is used to make profits (we remember the scandal of the remuneration of Richard Descoings at Sciences Po who prided himself on copying certain business schools).

What do we learn in business schools?

Depending on social class, gender, ethnic origins, everything is very variable. But the programs are, for Parker, enough “concealed»With a focus on a few important personalities among the speakers. “The content and form of the teachings are such that they rhyme with the thought which takes for granted that the virtues of the framing of the capitalist market represent the only possible vision of the world. “

The links between the “predatory nature of capitalismWith those of leaders with disproportionate salaries are established. Only count the results, not to mention “viability, diversity, responsibilities“Which are”ornaments“. The teaching of finance, in Parker’s article, refers to the critiques of Thomas Piketty
which is against the idea that more concentration of wealth at the top produces more innovation and growth.

Martin Parker is fiercely critical of the management of human resources, which is based on the theories of rational selfishness. By suggesting that humans are seen as technological resources, who learn to open or close factories, but not to negotiate with unions (“it would be partisan»). «Business ethics and responsibility are front topicsWho understand nothing of the economic and social relations themselves which must be changed.

« The acceleration of globalized trade, the use of market mechanisms and managerial techniques, the development of technologies such as in accounting, finance and its functioning are never called into question. This is the progressive narrative of the modern world based on technological promise, choice, opulence and wealth. ”

Other criticisms emanate from the utopia of a pleasant world conveyed by schools, so this privilege comes at a very high cost resulting in “environmental disasters, resource wars and forced migration, inequalities within and between countries, the encouragement of hyperconsumption as well as persistent undemocratic practices at work.»

Hence Parker’s wish to renew research, teach different forms of organization and take into account all the criticisms of those who think that world capitalism is taking the planet to destruction.


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