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Dean Clark Addresses Open Forum

April 22 – Dean Kim Clark held an open forum last week, giving current MBA students a chance to ask a variety of questions on the current state of, and future developments in the School’s MBA program.

When asked to comment on the likely major changes in the MBA experience at HBS over the next five years, the Dean pointed to a proposed refitting of Aldrich, bringing the classrooms there up to the standard of the newly-completed Hawes Hall. This will help facilitate cases discussions to become more interactive, potentially utilizing video-conferencing technology to bring multiple case protagonists in on a “live” basis.

The Dean also focused on the likely increase in the number of international cases discussed as part of the MBA program. For this, the School will draw heavily on its international research centers. These centers are presently producing 350 locally-written cases per year.
These improvements will go hand-in-hand with a continued strengthening of the School’s IT platform, and an increased Leadership, Values and Decision Making (LVDM) offering in the RC curriculum.

The Dean was also asked about the School’s “Early Career Initiative.” Here, the Dean stressed that the school has no requirement that applicants’ demonstrate a minimum number of years’ work experience. One goal of the School’s initiative is to lower the average age at entry from the Class of 2003’s level of 26.8 years somewhere around 25 years.

In part, the initiative is a reaction to what Dean Clark termed “the behavior of recruiters [to] counsel people not to go to business school [by] promoting them on a fast track.” Whilst the school will continue to admit a “relatively small” number of applicants who come directly from college, most admits will continue to have “a few years” of work experience.

The Dean noted how he was still “angry” and “upset” in the aftermath of the Enron debacle. However, the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history has the potential to become a “catalyst” for changing the way business is conducted. The Dean pointed to how many of the issues raised by the Enron collapse are systemic rather than particular to one company. Questions on the dramatic failure of the capital markets and the company’s Board of Directors to provide adequate governance have to be answered.

When asked about the adequacy of the School’s Community Standards, Dean Clark said that the current system was “much better and stronger” than those that prevailed at the school from 1978-95. He highlighted the openness, clarity, and simplicity of Community Standards relative to the brief experiences the School had with “an honor code” system.

Dean Clark admitted that it was increasingly difficult to differentiate the HBS experience from other MBA programs, as other business schools continue to become “more like us.” In particular, other schools are replicating HBS’s focus on General Management, organization into sections, and use of a forced curve for grading. That being said, the Dean highlighted seven key areas of differentiation for the HBS MBA experience:

oThe School’s commitment to leadership

oThe School’s commitment to the case method as the best means of developing leaders

oThe closeness of faculty to business practitioners, coupled with an extremely high level of teaching ability

oProviding the environment for a life-changing, transformational experience with a residential campus

oBeing the only U.S. business school with international bases focused on case-writing

oCommitment to the student: accessible faculty who spend an enormous amount of time teaching as well as conducting research

oBeing a “critical part of the world’s management education system” through the widespread distribution of HBS case studies

These points of differentiation mean that the School is able to provide “scale advantages combined with intimacy” allowing “lifelong relationships to be forged in the Aldrich classroom,” concluded Dean Clark.

April 29, 2002
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