Why business shouldn’t be your first (or only) degree. (in process)

This is a work in progress –– as are most of my posts. I am fulfilling a compelling desire to write by doing just that –– writing. Unfortunately, I seldom have the time, or creative process, to complete a work in one sitting. So, I intend to capture my urges to the extent I can and return, as I can, to advance my work. Hence, this post is incomplete. If you like it… let me know; what better motivation could there be for me.

First, an admission, I have an MBA. Worse still, my undergraduate degree is economics. Oh, well, having come this far, I’ll also admit to the Business and Commerce stream in High School. That just might colour the following statement ironic, or perhaps stain it hypocritical. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that a business degree shouldn’t be your only degree. Even more provocatively, I don’t think that the esteem in which ‘biz’ students, and the business schools they attend, are held is appropriate to the contribution either make to society or even business itself.

Central to my argument is the fact that business graduates don’t make anything. They are, by their own terminology, ‘overhead’ – a ‘cost of doing business’ or what you and I would call (well, you anyway, because I know and do use that term) an expense. Their presence makes everything we buy cost more. Business graduates are scorekeepers, nothing more. Now, a scientist, a doctor and a mechanic — they produce something. A farmer, a cook, a bricklayer, a painter, a ditch digger, a teacher, an author, a singer, a mother, a philosopher are producers, too. All directly produce something tangible or intangible that would not otherwise exist and which has value in and of itself. The ‘in and of itself’ is vitally important. What does a scientist produce? Theories. However obscure in meaning or tenuous in benefit they appear, theories are raw materials which become components in our technological toys. (Einstein’s theory of relativity is the reason the MAP app works on your smartphone.) Scientists are essential. I’ll come back to Einstein.

Are business graduates essential? Well, imagine if you purchase a basket of apples, or a dozen ears of corn from a roadside stall at the end of the lane by the farmer’s fields, or perhaps a CD or DVD after a musician’s performance, right in the hall, just as you leave; it’s very likely that all of what you’ll pay will go directly to the producer of that product. And, that money, revenue or income (lots of terms exist, mostly to confuse) will, allowing for the amount that the producer takes to fund the quality of life they desire, go right back into the creation of more products. Now, it’s quite possible for the farmer or musician to hire a business grad to figure out the best price to put on the basket of apples or CD cover, but why. or In their defence, they might (and too often do) say that it is by their efforts that products come into being and by their efforts come to market and it is by their processes that the money paid for such products cascades beneficially through all the people and processes that link the producer to consumer.