Building Better B-Schools

Business schools and their graduates live in the real economic world--and the post-bubble, post-Enron environment is like nothing they have seen in recent times. Curriculums that trained students for the long boom need updating in an era of slow growth and widespread ethical worries. The good news is that many business schools are being extremely responsive to the marketplace. Big changes are under way, reflected in the surprising reordering of The Best B-Schools, BusinessWeek's Special Report on U.S. and European business schools.

The highest-ranking schools are moving back to teaching basic managerial skills that produce graduates with broad abilities that go well beyond a narrow facility for number-crunching. Not surprising, B-schools that offer courses on ethical leadership did particularly well. Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management (No. 1) and Harvard Business School (No. 3) got A's in ethics in BusinessWeek's survey, but they may have to try harder--Enron Corp. CFO Andrew S. Fastow is a Kellogg grad, and CEO Jeffrey K. Skilling earned his MBA at Harvard. At the University of Michigan Business School (No. 8), ethics and leadership training start early--at orientation. And at Yale School of Management (No. 14), which is known for its focus on nonprofit and public management, ethical issues are embedded in its curriculum.

The scandal-ridden U.S. economy is healing itself in many ways. One is better enforcement. Another is new legislation. Perhaps the most important is the kind of cultural sea change under way on the campuses of business schools.

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