68. The online MBA – professors at HBS disagree (Porter vs Christensen)

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68 The online MBA – professors at HBS disagree (Porter vs Christensen)

One of the key theories taught at HBS is called “disruptive innovation.” This theory, developed and published by star-professor Clay Christensen, aims to explain how certain industries and blue chip companies found themselves almost eradicated in no time, while others managed to maintain their power position by being aware of the danger of disruption and acting upon it. Another star professor at HBS is Michael Porter, considered a key authority with everything that has to do with corporate strategy and competitiveness.

So here we are today, with HBS having to respond to key challenges in its business model that is about to be disrupted by the Internet – or not? Will the future of the MBA (or of education for that matter) be online? Other schools and other Harvard faculties have moved aggressively towards the web. HBS, having a very different model of education based on classroom discussion around cases, was until recently holding its guns. That was until Dean Nohria switched strategies and started investing massively in online content as well. One would think that with two star strategy professors on board in the likes of Christensen and Porter, HBS would have an easy time cruising through these challenges. However, it turns out, these professors disagree about the potential opportunity/threat that is posed by the Internet and thus do not see eye to eye about the best way to move forward.

Christensen’s view is that about half of the universities in the U.S. could face bankruptcy within 15 years due to technology. According to him, HBS faces the same threat, as he does not see HBX as the solution to the disruption caused by the internet. “It should be cheap and simple,” according to Christensen, which cannot be said about HBX. Porter, on the other hand, claims that HBS is doing the right thing by continuing to focus on its core brand and strengths and using the Internet – through HBX – to reach more customers while not directly competing with its own offline offerings.

If Christensen and Porter cannot agree[1], then it’s definitely not up to me to take a stand as to who is right or wrong. What’s sure though, is that the internet is about to change our educational model as we know it. Find out more about HBX online (where else?!?).

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[1] Find some interesting articles on the subject here: http://goo.gl/1gXuB7 and here: http://goo.gl/MrX0iV

 

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Accepted! - Getting in and Fitting in at Harvard Business School - Book cover

ACCEPTED!

GETTING IN AND FITTING IN AT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL

ISBN 978-981-09-9168-5
eISBN 978-981-09-9169-2

Authored by: Frederic D Mahieu

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