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Do CEOs with MBAs perform better?

CEO MBA runningThis article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 17-Jan-2013 issue

In recent years MBA programmes have received a lot of criticism: teaching flawed financial thinking, ignoring business ethics, hiding from the real world of business and sheltering MBA students in academic theory. And so, as the argument goes, MBA business leaders are ruled by greed and short-term gain. Hence much of the blame for the global financial crisis fell on high-profile MBA alumni like Lehman Brothers’ Richard Fuld (Stern’s MBA of 1973), and Merrill Lynch’s John Thain (Harvard 1979). Let’s not forget Jeff Skilling of Enron, who had an MBA, while Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t even complete university.

With these criticisms in mind, do MBA-degreed CEOs perform better than their non-MBA peers? The effect of a CEO’s MBA (or lack of one) on the business’ performance is very much contested ground, with evidence to support both sides. Continue reading