Business Education (Encyclopedia of Small Business)
Business education is a term that encompasses a number of methods used to teach students the fundamentals of business practices. These methods range from formal educational degree programs, such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA), to school-to-work opportunity systems or cooperative education. Business education programs are designed to instill in students the basic theories of management and production. The main goals of business education programs are to teach the processes of decision making; the philosophy, theory, and psychology of management; practical applications; and business start-up and operational procedures.
TYPES OF BUSINESS EDUCATION PROGRAMS
Traditional academic business education programs include college courses that teach students the fundamentals of management, marketing, ethics, accounting, and other relevant topics. These have been supplemented in recent years with extensive course offerings in computer skills, e-commerce management, and other elements of the "new economy." Students can earn degrees ranging from an Associate to a Ph.D (Doctor of Philosophy) in business administration. Some programs may consist of classwork only, while othersuch as tech-prep and cooperative education programs, internships, and school-to work opportunitiesombine academics with on-the-job training.
A tech-prep program is a four-year planned sequence of study for a technical field which students begin in their junior year of high school. The program extends through either two years of college in occupational education, or a minimum two-year apprenticeship. Students who complete the program earn either certificates or Associate degrees. Cooperative education (co-op) is a program which offers students a combination of college courses and work experience related to their majors. Co-op programs are available in a wide range of business disciplines, e.g., information systems, accounting, and sales. Participants enroll in a postsecondary educational program while employed in a related job. Most co-op participants are paid by their employers. The co-op program provides students with the work experience they need to obtain full-time employment after graduation. More than 1,000 postsecondary educational institutions and 50,000 employers participate in co-op programs throughout the United States.
Internships are related closely to co-op programs. The main difference, however, is that those who participate in internship programs are not paid, as internships are designed specifically to provide participants with work experience. Often, interns will complete the program separately from their academic setting, rather than combining the two.
School-to-work opportunity programs focus on career awareness for students. They provide participants with work mastery certificates and furnish them with links to technical colleges. In these programs, all participants have jobs, apprenticeships, or further schooling after finishing high school.
Career academies are occupationally focused high schools that contain "schools within schools." Primarily, they train high school juniors and seniors in such areas as environmental technology, applied electrical science, horticulture, and engineering. In addition to these schools, there are also privately operated business schools that grant certificates to students who complete their programs.
All of these types of business education programs provide participants with career paths for high-skill technical and professional occupations by formally linking secondary and postsecondary education, and by integrating academic and occupational learning. Students who complete such programs gain an advantage over people who concentrate solely on the academic part of business education. Whichever route students use to acquire a basic knowledge of business skills and principles, there exist ample opportunities to prepare them for business careers.
ENTREPRENEURS AND THE MBA
In the past, many entrepreneurs viewed the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree as unnecessary to small business success, and some believed that it stifled the creativity that allowed small businesses to develop and grow. Most entrepreneurs counted on their energy, work experience, industry knowledge, and business connections rather than on their formal business education. But in recent years, increasing numbers of entrepreneurs have chosen to pursue an MBA degree. Jay Finegan, writing in Inc., suggested two reasons for this change. First, today's business world often requires small companies to compete for the same customers as much larger, professionally managed corporations. Second, entrepreneurs are finding that even their smaller competitors are likely to be run by MBAs, as more downsized executives decide to start their own companies.
When they face the fact that their competitors' business training might offer them an advantage, many entrepreneurs choose to pursue an MBA in order to even the playing field. The MBA degree offers entrepreneurs a set of sophisticated management tools that can be brought to bear on the challenges lenges of running a small business, including economic analysis, marketing knowledge, strategic planning, and negotiating skills. In addition, a business education can help many small business owners to broaden their viewpoints and recognize trends within their business or industry.
Yet another reason for the increase in entrepreneurs pursuing MBA degrees is that most such programs have become more practical in recent years. In addition to teaching theory, MBA programs are increasingly emphasizing teamwork, hands-on experience, and cross-disciplinary thinking. This approach makes the MBA much more applicable to the entrepreneur's interests and experience.
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Cashill, Jack. "Capitalizing on Business Education." Ingram's. July 2000.
Finegan, Jay. "Too Cool for School: For Generations, Entrepreneurs Have Loathed Everything about the MBA. So Why Are So Many Now Going Back to Get One?" Inc. October 1996.
Mitchell, Meg. "A Difference of Degree." CIO. September 2000.
Sharp, Arthur G., and Elizabeth O. Sharp. The Business-Education Partnership. International Information Associates, 1992.
Business Education (Encyclopedia of Business)
Business education generally refers to the plethora of courses designed to provide students with any number of skills needed for success in business, especially those related to launching and running businesses. These range from advanced management science and marketing courses as part of degree programsuch as the master of business administrationo typing and computer courses taken for personal career goals. Community colleges, universities, small private business schools, and professional/community organizations offer business education classes.
With some focus on theoretical issuesspecially in advanced courses for degreesusiness education classes largely tend to prepare students for real-life business situations and emphasize practical, utilitarian techniques and methods for conducting business. Market demands and trends usually drive business education programs, dictating the kinds of classes offered and their theoretical framework. For example, the prevailing emphasis on teamwork by companies in the 1990s led business education programs to teach collaborative work and management skills.
While the number of business majors tapered off in the 1960s to about 13 percent, they rebounded in the 1980s accounting for almost 25 percent of all undergraduate majors. Furthermore, interest in business education continued to grow in the 1990s. Because of a glut of business degree holders produced during this period, however, businesses and business educators began rethinking the kinds of skills needed to succeed in business. In addition, the overabundance of people with business degrees in the 1990s forced business school graduates to differentiate themselves from their counterparts.
Business schools also found themselves caught up in a debate over providing real-world business experience to students through entrepreneurship programs. Proponents of such programs argue that students require practical, hands-on preparation for starting and running businesses while in school, so that when they are graduated they can start or run businesses immediately. Schools such as the University of California at Berkeley's Hass School of Business offer such school funded entrepreneurship programs. Other schools such as Harvard Business School contend that if students launch and manage businesses while in school, they will miss out on a general business education. Instead, such schools urge students to gain real-world business experience by working in a corporation for three to five years after graduation.
Furthermore, business classes began focusing more on communication skills late in the 20th century. Surveys and studies in the late 1980s and early 1990s concluded that the crucial skills sought by companies ultimately were communication skills, especially speaking and listening. As a consequence, more business classes such as accounting and marketing began trying to hone students' communication skills in addition to teaching the principles and techniques of the discipline.
Additionally, a variety of studies and reports by business education observers and practitioners indicate that companies seek employees with practical problem-solving skills, knowledge of how the U.S. economy works, and a general understanding of key aspects of business such as accounting, finance, marketing, and purchasingesides specific technical skills students learn from business courses.
THE HISTORY OF COLLEGIATE BUSINESS EDUCATION
In 1881 the University of Pennsylvania through its Wharton Business School became the first university in the United States to offer undergraduate training in business. About a decade later, Dartmouth College offered the first master's degree in business through its Tuck Business School. Initially, college business courses focused on political science, law, economics, and the observations and advice of successful businesspeople. These courses strove to teach practical methods of accounting, finance, and production.
Around World War 11, the business school curriculum began to change by including new disciplines such as marketing, management, and employer/employee relations. At the same time, business schools implemented the case method of learning (interactive analysis of real-world business problems or "cases") and started focusing on business-related research. Between 1946 and 1966, business schools expanded not only their offerings but also their enrollment, while their courses continued to change. During this period, business scholars began to view management and other fields of business study as sciences. Consequently, business researchers borrowed theories and principles from the behavior sciences and applied them to business theory.
By the 1960s, graduate degrees in business became popular, in particular the master of business administration (MBA). Business doctoral programs started to attract many students who otherwise might have chosen degrees in fields such as economics, psychology, and law. From the 1960s to the 1980s, business schools achieved greater recognition as academic institutions and received greater interest from students. In the early 1960s, only about 15 percent of the country's undergraduates majored in business, but by the mid-1980s, about 25 percent of all undergraduates majored in business. Moreover, the number of MB As received mushroomed from 5,800 to over 70,000 during the same period.
BUSINESS EDUCATION PROGRAMS
Traditional college business education programs offer courses that teach students the fundamentals of management, marketing, ethics, accounting, and other related business fields. Students can earn degrees ranging from an associate's degree to a Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy). Some programs may consist of only class work, while othersuch as cooperative education programs and internshipsombine academics with on-the-job training.
Cooperative (co-op) education allows students to learn business concepts and techniques through college courses and to gain work experience related to their majors. Co-op programs are available in a wide range of business fields, e.g., information systems, accounting, and sales. Participants enroll in a postsecondary educational program while employed in a related job. Most co-op participants are paid by their employers. The co-op program provides students with the work experience they need to obtain full-time employment after graduation. More than 1,000 post-secondary educational institutions and 50,000 employers participate in co-op programs throughout the United States.
Internships are closely related to co-op programs. The main difference, however, is that those who participate in internship programs generally are not paid, as internships are designed specifically to provide participants with work experience. Interns usually spend a semestersually in the spring and summert a business off campus. The number of internships available to students rose 37 percent between 1992 and 1997, reaching more than 40,000, according to Peterson's Internships 1997. Internships benefit both students and companies in that students cultivate hands-on business skills, while companies are afforded a low-cost, low risk method of training and hiring employees.
THE MBA PROGRAM
Geared towards providing practical, applicable skills, the master's of business administration (MBA) program constitutes one of the most common kinds of formal business education. Graduate business schools such as Harvard Business School and the Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania) as well as many small and sometimes unaccredited business schools offer MBA programs. Over the decades, the MBA evolved into a program that focuses on fostering management skills. Consequently, MBA programs strive to produce qualified managers by providing a meld of practical and academic training. Business schools set as their goals imparting solid analytical, communication, and organizational skills, which effective managing requires.
MBA programs and requirements vary from school to school. Some schools emphasize general business skills that graduates can apply to a host of fields, whereas others allow students to specialize in areas such as industrial management. In addition, most schools offer joint-degree programs such as MBA/M.A. in library science or MBA/J.D. programs. Nevertheless, MBA programs usually include the following core classes: accounting, economics, finance, human organizational behavior, marketing, and production. While MBA programs focused on teaching general analytical skills in the 1970s and 1980s, they began emphasizing specialized or customized training for collaborative-structured business environments in response to demands by the business community.
The MBA provides its holders with significant benefits, including managerial credibility, certified skills, and employment and earning power. First, business-school graduates demonstrate commitment to their professions and careers as well as leadership by obtaining MB As. Second, because of the core requirements of most MBA programs, MBA holders possess, at the very least, a basic set of management skills sought by employers. Third, MBA recipients earn considerably more than their BBA (bachelor's of business administration) counterparts and much more more than B.A. recipients, according to the College Council Board. Students from the leading business schools, for example, typically receive multiple offers and starting salaries ranging from $75,000-$150,000, according to Fortune magazine.
Branch, Shelly. "MBAs are Hot Againnd They Know It." Fortune, 14 April 1997.
Green, Kenneth C., and Daniel T. Seymour. Who's Going to Run, General Motors? Princeton, NJ: Peterson's Guides, 1991.
Ryan, Cathy, and Roberta H. Krapels. "Organizations and Internships." Business Communication Quarterly, December 1997.