What the FT didn't print

Nina Jatana & Eric Stryson

On Monday January 11 the FT ran a piece called Cultivating Global Mindset about the inclusion of a cultural component for MBA students at New York University’s Stern School of Business. We sent the FT a response which has not been printed, but we thought it was worth sharing what we had to say about “cultivating global mindsets.”

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Dear Sir,

We read with interest the article about the new course offered by NYU Stern School of Business which aims to prepare MBA students for global careers (Business Education, Mon 10 Jan, 2011).  This is a noble aim, but what took them so long?  And what lessons are students really learning?

Hank Greenberg, Paul Volker, Maria Bartiromo and other high profile Americans in the world of finance provide a particular but arguably narrow outlook on globalization.  They do not speak for other cultures nor can they help students really understand what is important to other cultures.  Only people from those cultures can.  To assume otherwise is at best hubris and at worst an arrogance that perpetuates dangerous regional stereotypes. In addition, there is a certain irony in Western institutions appearing to believe that their many foreign students are best placed to learn about their cultures from people who are clearly not qualified.

The case studies highlighted – the opening up of China to AIG, the purchase of LTCB from the Japanese government – come from similar biases.  Where is the Chinese CEO doing resource deals in Africa and Latin America?

Or the community leaders in rural India opposing global mining companies?

What can students learn about the values of global customers by sitting in New York when for example, 300 million elderly in need of managed care are in China? Or where one of the fastest growing middle classes in the world are Muslim and scattered throughout an ethnically diverse string of Indonesian islands?

If this program is, as you report, “breaking new ground in business education” then clearly the conventional MBA has a long way to go.