Virgins Teaching At Porn School

If we find it odd that a hypothetical sex school would allow a virgin to teach students to perform in a porn movie, why should business students be taught by people who have never worked in a business?
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Let's say you want to become a porn star. After several years of holding more standard jobs, you decide to make a career switch in search of excitement, fame, and more interesting work colleagues. Since you lack experience in the industry, you begin looking for sex schools that can hopefully give you the required training needed to catch the attention of potential employers. Luckily for you, you gain admission into your top choice. Problem is, once the academic year starts you realize that none of your profs has had any real-life experience in the porn business. You rightly feel disappointed and betrayed. You give serious consideration to quitting school and asking for a refund of the $100,000 tuition. After all, you might be able to show some restraint and put up with the fact that none of your teachers has ever featured in a porn movie or that they have never met a real porn star or that they couldn't tell you the title of the latest Jena Jameson flick. But to have to endure the fact that all your profs are virgins, hey that's just totally unacceptable.

Of course, and perhaps unfortunately, in reality there are no porn schools out there that can teach you how to become a cast member of the next instalment of the "Radical Affairs" saga. However, this hypothetical story serves us well for the purpose of discussing what is wrong with the Business School environment, now that the 2009-2010 academic season has been unleashed. In the past few years a barrage of criticism has befell the formerly glorified b-school establishment. While the sources of criticism are varied, one particular issue is emphatically highlighted, namely the fact that b-school faculty simply do not, in general, posses any significant real-life business experience. B-schools are filled with finance professors who have never closed a deal or traded a bond, marketing professors who have never marketed anything, management professors who have never managed anyone, and strategy professors who have never designed any business strategy.

If we find it risible that a hypothetical sex school would allow a virgin to teach students to perform in a porn movie, why should we be less outraged by the fact that business students are being taught by people who have never worked in a business? In fact, the following sinister contradiction can routinely be found inside b-schools: students who have had significant real-life work experience (in many cases, positions of responsibility in highly-regarded firms and even in their own entrepreneurial activities) are being lectured by people with zero practical experience. The inescapable truth is that MBA students are most of the time being taught by people who would not gain admission to the (job experience-requiring) MBA program themselves.

Business (like cooking or having sex) is a purely practical activity, an art not a science, where the difference between having battled in the real world arena and not having done so is like day and night. Like senior profs Warrant Bennis and James O'Toole once mentioned, you cannot be a piano teacher if you have never played the instrument. Same with teaching the art of sexual positions, how to make crème brule, or how to run a business. B-school prospectuses claim to train the business leaders of the new century. How can all this peddling be reconciled with the fact that students will be learning from people who are typically as far away as possible from what's going on in the real business marketplace?

To be perfectly honest, while it would be great that all b-school profs carried at least a decent amount of real-life experience, the truth is that some people just don't like to work in a professional, non-academic environment or perhaps never had the chance. However, and this is the key idea, their interests would extend from the purely theoretical to the practical, and as such they would follow real-world events very closely and network with (and eagerly try to influence) leading practitioners. This type of people would obviously still be wonderful additions to the faculty roster of any business school, in spite of their lack of hands-on actual work experience.

Unfortunately, such a person would most likely be an exception at b-schools. There is even the danger that they might be penalized because of their interest in practitioners and their world. As long as theory and theorists reign supreme inside b-schools, we would have a situation akin to having virgins teaching at porn school. Equally illogical, similarly weird.

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