The Management Education Case for Millennials

With business school tuition on the rise (averaging around 120K for a fulltime 2 year MBA at a top-ten program; which doesn't include relocation fees, international study nor the opportunity cost of giving up a salary for two years) and an economic forecast that is consistently unclear these days, it is a wonder why anyone, let alone a tech savvy and highly entrepreneurial generation (the Millennials, those born between mid 1980s-2000) would make that sort of economic sacrifice.

Millennials have been criticized for being superficial, non-committal and similarly, business schools have been chastised for churning out unethical graduates who wreak havoc on companies, if not the global economy (e.g., ENRON and the Global Financial Credit Crisis). In defense of both, business school alums have contributed to global prosperity by creating leaders who have impassionedly worked to solve some of the trickiest global economic problems (which in turn, impacts global stability). The 2015 Harvard Impact Study, for example, claims that the school's 375,000 living alumni have created over 146,000 for-profit and nonprofit ventures. As a result, these have created over 20 million jobs and generate annual revenues of $3.9 trillion - greater than the gross domestic product of Germany, the world's fourth-largest economy. We can only continue to hope that as Dr. William Schurz, former President of Thunderbird School of Global Management, has stated, "borders frequented by trade seldom need soldiers."

While it is too early to judge, the report card for Millennials is promising and shows a new business model: the sharing, as opposed to, the taking society. A complex positive-sum game instead of a simplistic zero-sum game where there are winners and losers. With this mindset, Millennials have given the world a new perspective on resource allocation, empowerment, and business. Companies such as Airbnb, Facebook, and Uber are some recent examples of successful corporations that trade in profit, but in being the interface between the consumer and the provider of the goods/services (in these cases, property, content and transportation).

That being said, money is not the sole focus of millennials, purpose seems to be the core of their generational identity. Think about Facebook (FB) and Uber and their contributions to our world. Recent research shows that Uber is reducing the number of drunk-driving deaths; FB activated its "Safety Check" tool to allow users who were in Paris during the 2015 terrorist attacks to reassure friends and relatives they were safe. The connections between these "dots" and contributions to society: management education.

Both Millennials and business schools want to have a purpose. This generation has consistently demonstrated that they want to change the world for the better by sharing their knowledge and working together. Both are in turn resourceful, thoughtful, innovative, entrepreneurial yet collaborative, disruptive yet caring, and in short, energizing to be around. That's why the two of them complement each other so well and that is a good thing for the economy, and society, at large. Now for that 100K+... best to consider it as an investment, not a sunk cost.

This piece was co-authored by Bertrand Guillotin and Natalie d'Aubermont Thopmson. Bertrand Guillotin serves as Assistant Professor & Academic Director of the International Business Administration undergraduate program at Temple University's Fox School of Business. Natalie d'Aubermont Thompson serves as the founder & CEO of Saltar Consulting.