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Management Training Must Change in a Digital Economy

Business schools are a legacy industry that is trying to adapt to a digital world, the New York Times reports.

4719147430_c81cb1d2f8_m_digital-economy“Once, students who had professional experience with computer programming were rare at business schools. Today, David B. Yoffie, a professor at Harvard Business School, estimates that a third or more of the 900 students there have experience as programmers, and far more of them have undergraduate degrees in the so-called STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering or mathematics.”

“Yet lately, many talented young people who might have gone to business school in the past are looking elsewhere. Applications to business graduate schools fell by 1 percent in 2013, the most recent statistics, reports the Council of Graduate Schools. By contrast, applications for computer science and mathematics graduate programs increased by 11 percent.”

Steve Lohr: “The challenge business schools face is a sign of the broader test of leadership and management across industry. It’s certainly taken time; technology transforms the economy less like a tidal wave than like a steadily rising tide. Yet by now, nearly every business is in good part a digital business. Take your pick — retailing, advertising, media, health care, finance, even farming. A modern car is a chip-filled, sensor-laden, Internet-connected computer on wheels. And the human driver, it seems, is becoming optional.”

“The Silicon Valley mantra is, ‘Listen to the engineers.’ Certainly some companies led by engineers are breakaway winners, notably Google. Yet companies dominated by engineers often stumble because of miscues in strategy, marketing or operations… The best approach, Mr. Yoffie said, is frequently a partnership between a technologist and a business executive.”