Re "The Best B-Schools" (Cover Story, Oct. 18): Ultimately the best companies can be measured by one metric: total return to shareholders as determined by stock price performance and dividends. I would suggest that business-school rankings, as determined by students and the market (e.g., companies) can likewise be simplified into one metric each: a ranking based on which schools prospective students are choosing to attend, and which graduates the market is choosing to compensate the most. These are the schools and graduates most in demand, and therefore these business schools should be ranked the highest.
Newport Coast, Calif.
I'm not sure that the ranking of a business school guarantees that the graduate will make a good manager or chief executive. I find it hard to believe that an MBA graduate is prepared to start at the top and worthy of a $135,000-$150,000 starting salary. Too few are willing to pay their dues and learn the business from the ground up. I wonder how many would be willing to start at $45,000 in a shop running a computer numerical control (CNC) machine or on an automotive assembly line to learn what manufacturing is all about.
If recruiters pay the salaries quoted in your article for people who have no experience, background, or specialization in the business they are about to become a part of, no wonder they feel they're worth $1.5 million as a CEO. Something is wrong with the system. It further spreads the gap between the privileged MBA of the top 20, and the middle working class.
Albert B. Albrecht
The commentary "Too much of a good thing" seems to view the use of adjunct faculty as a degradation of the quality of education. Adjunct faculty bring in a much-needed contemporary and real-world context to the academically stale and sometimes impractical orientation of subjects that are taught by full-time professors who likely have gone from college to doctoral school with only a few years of consulting experience to back them up. Keep in mind that the MBA is not a theoretical justification; it is a professional degree where context and perspective from the real world rate higher than conceptual elegance or even mental rigor.
You must be talking through your hats to think that only serious academicians are capable of understanding theory well enough to teach. In my MBA experience, the main difference -- PhD holders have more and deeper knowledge about who researched which concept and who wrote what -- hardly matters. I would take the practice-oriented MBA graduate to run my company any time and be content to hire the academically finessed MBA for the analytical jobs.
As a member of the class of 2004 (I'm currently taking my last MBA class at DePaul University, Chicago, finishing in November), I was disappointed that you excluded part-time business schools from you biennial B-school survey. We might not have the same reputation or high GMAT scores as our local siblings, i.e., Kellogg and University of Chicago, but we still have many talented students and a great faculty.
Unlike full-time MBA grads, we don't put aside our jobs, careers, and families to take the time to finish our degree. We go to work in the morning and then take classes at night, which for some is an even greater effort than being a full-time student. A short comparison/survey of part-time MBA programs might draw some recruiters to our campuses. It would also acknowledge many talented individuals who are as successful and possess as great a potential as full-time MBA grads.
Editor's note: While we do not rank part-time MBA programs, we profile more than 280 part-time MBA programs online at businessweek.com/bschools
Re Michael J. Mandel's "This way to the future" ("The innovation economy," Oct. 11): I have serious doubt, though I hope for the best, that "all the right factors are in place" for the next 75 years to be as innovative as the last 75. On the list "Where changes were explosive" in the past 75 years, it appeared to me that all of these inventions were made from 1930 to 1950, the remaining years being mainly a time of development and broadening the range of applications to other fields. Jet planes, radar, computers, atomic energy -- even the concepts of lean management and supply chains -- are all linked to moments in history of strong need.
In a global economy, moments of need grow out of an increasing gap between the quality of life in separate regions, thus explaining how tech advancement is so much faster in Asia than in the U.S. Technological advances are always balanced with general quality of life: Where we have high quality, we need little advancement, and vice versa.
Griping about the lack of enough science and technology students seems to me a little overblown. What is important is not technology and science per se. We benefit only from technologies that make our societies wealthier and that make more people live better lives. Why was the U.S. the fastest-growing economy during the golden years, from the mid-19th century to the 1930s? Did it have better technology than Britain or other Western European countries? Not exactly. What the U.S. had was a more open economy, entrepreneurial spirit, and propensity to take risks -- the main ingredients essential to the ultimate social prosperity.
As long as the market is left to its forces, all comes to its right place through the free flow of people, capital, ideas, and comparative competitive advantages. Maybe it's not competitive any longer for the U.S. to produce more engineering and science graduates. They start to be produced in abundance and cheaply by India, China -- and why not Vietnam or Iran? Left alone, the market knows better.
Although it may motivate some, money is not the key to innovation. It always was, and always will be, passion. Louis Pasteur didn't develop vaccines to get rich, but first of all to help people. Other examples are easy to find. What could threaten the U.S. as an innovator would be too much greed and a lack of passion. Look in your heart to see where you can help people. The money will follow. And as history has proved, maybe somebody else will enjoy the fruits of your work -- which is easier to accept if you're not in it for the money.
"Are copyright wars chilling innovation?" makes some good points. But as hard as organizations such as the Recording Industry Association of America may work at prosecuting U.S. citizens under American laws, software that works around almost any copy-protection scheme is posted on uncountable Web sites around the planet. All this enforcement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act does is drive that kind of development offshore. It doesn't prevent it. Movie and recording studios need to get over that fact and figure out how to make the new business model work for them.
It is important to understand the structural changes in venture capital. During the 1970s and '80s, VCs were financial partners to business entrepreneurs, aligned around win-win deals with shared risks. VCs were mature individuals, often with a strong business background. Many of today's VCs are young MBAs with little or no experience in creating and building successful businesses. Today's deals are purely financial arrangements much closer to the commercial-banking model, with disproportionate risk carried by entrepreneurs. The good news is that several of the more established VC firms have returned to fundamentals. They are making thoughtful investments around sound leadership and management and will support the long-term building of strong market franchises. We truly need them.
"This way to the future" listed natural-gas-powered turbines as one area where innovation has been slow. I beg to differ. In the 1960s gas-turbine efficiencies were below 40%. Today high temperature combined-cycle gas-turbine generators have a heretofore impossible thermal efficiency of 60% -- the largest single gain since James Watt's work with steam engines in the 18th century. A plant using what General Electric Co. (GE) calls their "H Turbine" system became operational near Mason City, Iowa, this last summer.
Fred W. Hallberg
Re "Where our energy will come from" ("The Innovation Economy, Cover Story, Oct. 11): In my view, the safety of nuclear energy is close to a nonissue in view of the fact that hundreds of thousands of people die every year because of smoking, car accidents, and disease. What we need now is a nonpolitical analysis of the safety of nuclear energy, with an action-plan proposal of steps to be taken: safer nuclear energy, research on fusion, nuclear-waste removal, and safety-improvement steps for existing power plants. We need to assess the impact of a scenario in which China, India, and other fast-growing areas use oil, coal, gas, etc., at the same level as the U.S. and Europe today.
We need more realistic assumptions for alternative energy when used on a broad scale, and we need to stop funding unrealistic energy alternatives (especially wind energy), which only move us away from the real issues. In Germany the left-wing government, especially the Green Party, is killing nuclear energy in favor of "alternative energy," which, in my view, would lead to more air pollution and higher energy costs -- an economic disaster. We also need a broad information effort to de-emotionalize public opinion.
BusinessWeek is the only magazine worldwide that can address this complex and extremely important task.
I picked up your 75th Anniversary issue while I was over in the U.S. First of all, congratulations on your ripe old age! Second, you state that the credit card was introduced during the '50s or '60s. The first reported card I have found dates back to the mid-1930s and was introduced by Universal Air Travel Plan to pay for airline tickets. It was a real card -- not a piece of plastic -- and worked on the "buy now, pay later" principle. UATP and its green card (now in plastic, of course) is still with us.
John F. Brindley
It is important to understand the structural changes in venture capital. During the 1970s and '80s, VCs were financial partners to business entrepreneurs, aligned around win-win deals with shared risks. VCs were mature individuals, often with a strong business background. Many of today's VCs are young MBAs with little or no experience in creating and building successful businesses. Today's deals are purely financial arrangements much closer to the commercial-banking model, with disproportionate risk carried by entrepreneurs. The good news is that several of the more established VC firms have returned to fundamentals. We truly need them.
In "Getting a grip on grid computing" (Information Technology, Oct.18), Steve Hamm makes an important point: The true business value of grid computing lies in its impact on key applications. This means that grid comes first, and utility will follow. Platform Computing and other members of the Global Grid Forum (GGF) are working with hundreds of customers worldwide to get them on the road to grid by providing them with a roadmap for making the technology work today and scale for tomorrow. The truth is that vast amounts of computing capacity within a typical existing technology infrastructure remain untapped.
Smart organizations realize that grids are built, not bought. Corporate users must set a long-term strategy, identify specific application opportunities for grid today, and plan the incremental implementation that will bring them to true utility in the future. Much in the same way as consumers are now more confident in their use of the Internet, widespread recognition of the benefits of grid computing will take it to the next level of adoption.
Founder and CEO
Editor's note: The writer is a commercial pioneer of grid computing.