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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 12/24/20

Corporate Corruption of Education Revisited: The Case of Business Schools

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Over two years ago I wrote an article on the corpocracy's corruption of higher education by both corporate and government sources. [1] Unknown to me at about the same time a blockbuster book appeared with the brazen title, "Shut Down the Business School: What's Wrong with Management Education" by Martin Parker, a tenured professor of organization studies, School of Management, at the University of Bristol, UK. [2] Ponder this implausible juxtaposition for a moment. I will return shortly to summarize my recent e-mail exchange with the iconoclastic professor.

And speaking of "iconoclastic," one of my more recent books is titled, "The Iconoclast's Blueprint for Peak Corporate Performance." [3] I wrote it still unaware of the Bristol professor.

In this book I cover the waterfront with both detailed discussions of what is wrong and what should be prescribed in corporations for their governance, their leadership, their organizational structure, and especially for how they manage performance, the vital means to planning for and achieving desired results where both the means and the ends are neither unethical nor illegal, and would eventually if repeated enough times lead to what I called the "gold standard" for peak corporate performance; namely year-in and year-out achievement of profitable results without breaching any ethical values or violating any laws. I seriously doubt that any corporation in America has come even barely close to that standard, for I have searched and found none.

After the book was published, I sent e-mail letters to the deans of 75 prominent business school graduate and undergraduate programs. Here is the gist of my letter to them:

"True to its title, the book challenges conventional wisdom and practice throughout the corporate world, but then goes on to offer up in detail unconventional yet tested and logically valid alternatives to current corporate profiles and practices. Please circulate this e-mail throughout the grad and undergrad faculty teaching business majors. They are part of America's future and they need to read this book. It will stimulate their thinking about new possibilities in business and is a motherlode of potential theses in the making."

Well, not one of the 75 business schools responded. I figure they do not dare bite the hand that feeds them far over and above student tuition revenue. Just look around the campus of any reputable university and you will notice the corporate presence; the bigger and nicer buildings house the business schools. Look closer and see the corporate funders' names emblazoned above the entrances. Look closer and notice the schools' official affiliations are saturated with top corporate management (Duke's business school, for instance, has nearly 60 top corporate people on its "Board of Visitors," and scores of the same on its six "Regional Advisory Groups"). [4] Look closer still and notice the endowed chairs given by corporate sponsors, and the schools.

I decided to share the above piece of this article in an e-mail exchange with Professor Parker and to ask him a series of questions to learn more about the UK analogy to America's corpocracy.

Gary: Professor, I appreciate your cooperation in this e-mail exchange "across the pond." The first question I must ask you out of burning curiosity is this; how have you managed not to be ousted by the system you say should be "shut down"?

Martin: There is something of an irony in being promoted for being critical isn't there? I think what that shows us is that my criticisms aren't really regarded as that dangerous, because if they were, I would be gone. I write and publish quite a lot and engage in a variety of other activities (teaching, grants, research) that are a regular part of university life. Criticizing business schools isn't all that I do! Many people, including the deans of business schools, might not like what I say, but they can also use me as an example of just how much freedom of speech they tolerate. Perhaps I'm like a court jester, that the king can use to demonstrate how liberal he is?

Gary: Would you please summarize in about a paragraph your book on shutting down business schools?

Martin: In the book I argue that business schools teach corporate capitalism as if that were the only form of economic life that were possible. This involves them making three assumptions. First, that the corporation is the ultimate form of organization. Second, that all people need to be managed, because they can't manage themselves. A third assumption is that all organizations, and economies, must grow to be successful. Now at a time when we are challenged by populism, climate change and widening inequality, none of these assumptions are helpful, and it means that business schools are part of the problem, not the solution. My solution is to suggest that we should replace b-schools with what I call 'schools for organizing', and that they would teach about democratic, low-carbon and more inclusive forms of business and governance. The economy, and our planet, is too important to be left to the glib promises of b-schools.

Gary: In the US, the CIA, the equivalent of your M!16, has infiltrated every walk of life, every nook and cranny. I am sure I still am on its watch list after getting a call from a CIA agent years ago about a symposium I chaired in Tokyo, and after my recent outpouring of books and articles describing and excoriating our corpocracy and proposing ways to replace it with a legitimate political, social, and economic system good for all our people. [5] Do you know or suspect that you are on the M16's watch list?

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Gary Brumback Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Retired organizational psychologist.

Author of "911!", The Devil's Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lur ch; America's Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying; and Corporate Reckoning Ahead.

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