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Allison Schrager

America’s MBAs Are the Latest Skeptics of Capitalism

The foundation of the US economic system no longer gets automatic approval at the nation’s elite business schools.

A new generation of capitalists.

A new generation of capitalists.

Photographer: Libby March/Bloomberg

You might expect to find skeptics of capitalism in sociology or anthropology departments — and let’s be honest, capitalism doesn't have so many fans lately. But you would think the basis for our great American economic system could at least count on the endorsement of business students.  As one recent recipient of a Masters of Business Administration degree put it, getting an MBA should be “the purest expression of capitalism.” A business school’s mission is to train capitalists — people who own and run businesses. 

And yet recently, the former dean of Columbia Business School, Glenn Hubbard, wrote that his students were skeptical of capitalism. In 2019, Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria said his biggest challenge is lack of faith in capitalism. Several economists who teach in business and economics departments have told me they are getting similar push back in their classes.