Interested in Business? Study Philosophy

How should Canada educate students to compete successfully in the business world? Some provincial governments think it is by teaching them business…

Recent evidence suggests this approach is mistaken. We will produce better managers if we educate them first in traditional subjects in the arts and sciences. We may do best of all if we educate them in philosophy…

Consider the GMAT…. Undergraduate business students, whom you would think would be especially well prepared for this test, do badly on it, scoring below average for all test takers. The best results are by math students, followed by philosophy students and engineers.

According to a book by sociologist Micheal Useem (1989), (arts and science students) have more difficulty finding beginning managerial jobs specific skills in finance or engineering. When they are hired, it is usually lower in the company hierarchy. Once hired, however, they advance more rapidly than their colleagues… An AT&T study showed that, after 20 years with the company, 43 percent of liberal arts graduates had reached upper-middle management, compared with 32 percent of engineers. The Chase Manhattan Bank found that 60 percent of its worst managers had MBAs while 60 percent of its best managers had Bas. At IMB, nine of the company’s top 13 executives had liberal arts degrees.

What explains the success of arts and science students?… The study of admissions test found that students do best “ who major in a field characterized by formal thought, structural relationships, abstract models, symbolic languages, and deductive reasoning.” The more abstract a subject, the more it develops pure reasoning skills; and the stronger a person’s reasoning skills, the better he or she will do in any applied field.

This fits the data from business. Corporations report that, though technical skills are most important in low-level managerial jobs, they become less so in middle and top jobs, where the key traits include communications skills, the ability to formulate problems, and reasoning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *