MBA and the Education of Leaders: The New Playing Fields of Eton?

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31 Citations (SciVal)


This article takes a critical look at the management education offered by business schools, seeking to establish whether it encourages the emergence and development of leadership qualities. The author introduces a teaching experiment he carried out as part of an MBA programme aimed at assessing whether it is possible to teach a leadership course in which the students do not assume the role of followers, but rather find themselves leading others, taking responsibility and operating without the conventional safety net provided by the lecturer. The author concludes that the structure, ideology and ethos of MBA programmes are fundamentally opposed to an education of leaders, arguing MBA experience is one for educating followers rather than leaders - committed followers, obstinate, hardened lieutenants perhaps, but not generals. It is in this sense then that MBAs may be seen as a contemporary parallel to the playing fields of Eton. They are uniquely suited to people who can survive and even prosper in the merciless fields of today’s business.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-163
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2005


  • fantasy
  • followership
  • leadership creed
  • leadership laboratory
  • pedagogy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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