Website Accessiblity

The Education of American Businessmen (1959)

In the late 1950s, business schools as a whole came under close scrutiny from two key academic reports. Both the Gordon-Howell Report and the Pierson Report criticized business schools for including narrow, trade-focused curricula within their programs; for employing poorly trained faculty; attracting academically inferior students; and for implementing simplistic teaching and research methodologies.

During this post-war period, when the U.S. government and economy at large was seeking to advance via an industrial revolution, the pair of reports instigated a sea of change within academia, providing a much-needed wake-up call to many of the nation's oldest, elite business schools. Complacency was no longer an option.


Regarding The Importance Of Raising Standards:

"The most promising development in this field is the increased emphasis being placed on management's responsibilities for formulating and carrying through decisions. Schools with this orientation tend to stress the importance of broad background preparation and the contributions of basic disciplines to understanding key business questions… Similarly, emphasis needs to be put on widely applicable methods, not principles, of managerial performance since the body of test knowledge in this area is still painfully small. The chief value of this approach is that it helps the study of the various business specialties or functions by relating them to each other, to the underlying disciplines, and to the conduct of the firm as a whole."

The Role Of Business Education:

"The main goal of a business education should be the development of an individual with broad training in both the humanities and principles of business, capable of independent, imaginative and constructive thought. A business education should help a student:

  • Acquire a general knowledge of his [and her] chosen field
  • Develop his [and her] capacity to reason
  • Develop a sense of values
  • Help him [and her] to communicate more effectively

A business education should also develop in a student an inquiring, analytical and searching mind and a code of ethics including honesty, integrity and an uncompromising respect for the rights of others."

On MBA Coursework:

"We know how to present problems posing the need to decide who could or should do what and why with what objectives in mind and with what values underlying their choices. It is more difficult to achieve as great an intensity in courses that, for example, present an abstract classification of management into functions as organizing, staffing, directing, planning and controlling, without concentrating upon the complex how questions which arise when these managerial functions are performed in actual situations. Current attempts, as at the University of Chicago and [Carnegie Mellon] to approach subject matter more theoretically may enrich the intellectual content of theoretical courses."

(Reprinted from "A Study Of University-College Programs In Business Administration" (The Pierson Report) New York: McGraw-Hill. 1959)

"A business education should also develop in a student an inquiring, analytical and searching mind and a code of ethics including honesty, integrity and an uncompromising respect for the rights of others."

- The Pearson Report, 1959

Footer Navigation