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Big Changes at HBS

November 20, 2011 :: Admissionado Team

For generations, Harvard has been the first school everyone thinks when they hear the word “university.” Ranked #1 by practically every guide/magazine/website out there, it’s safe to say Harvard is one of the best schools in the world. And, of course, it’s the same for HBS.

Harvard Business School is easily the most highly sought after MBA program in the world, regardless of the fierce competition and high application standards. And of course it is – it’s a world-renowned MBA program with a strong alumni network, two factors that nearly guarantee future success.

A school that well-regarded couldn’t possibly have anything wrong with it, right?
Well, maybe not.

Dr. Nitin Nohria, the new Dean at HBS, thinks the school has room to make a lot of improvements. He believes that MBA programs have changed immensely and that students simply don’t have the same motivations as they used to. Nohria believes that business graduates should be focused on bringing value to the world, and that “once they create this value, then they can keep the value for themselves.” In a recession-stricken country with constant protests in almost every major city, it’s hard to argue with his opinion.

So, what is this “value?” No, it’s not a nickname for “cash.”

Nohria believes that modern-day students have one goal: to make huge amounts of money after graduation so they can buy whatever they want. Because students are so excited to take from the world later on, they often forget to think of ways to contribute to it. While so many of these students are excited to start or become part of a big, profitable business, he wonders why students aren’t as concerned with making a positive impact on the world as they are with their future paycheck.

He calls this entire concept “moral humility.”

What does this mean for Harvard? Nohria wants to completely overhaul the current business school curriculum. While some may argue “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he thinks it’s time to create a curriculum that encourages hard work, creativity, and a focus on small business, the so-called cornerstone of the American economy.

By using a new program, Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (or FIELD), Nohria is requiring all 900 of the school’s students to working with a company in an emerging market, and to imagine a new product or service that the company could introduce to the market. Kind of like an internship on steroids, FIELD will encourage students to not only work hard and make connections, but to bring something entirely new to the table.

While it might sound like a far cry from the case method you were expecting (and preparing for…), the new HBS curriculum promises students a more enriching b-school experience with even more benefits: valuable field experience, the ability to create something new, a larger network to tap into post-graduation, and doing all of this while attending one of the best business programs in the world.

Could it be? Did HBS just get… better?
We can only imagine how this is going to change…. everything.