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The MBA is dead – part 2: long live the MBL!

Eddie Blass (Researcher and Consultant, Ashridge Management School, Amersham, UK)
Pauline Weight (Director, Full‐time MBA, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield, UK)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 1 December 2005




Building on part 1 of this series, this paper aims to look at alternative ways in which business schools can develop the future managers and leaders needed by organisations. It draws attention to an emerging gap in the marketplace and suggests one possible model for addressing it.


A year‐long future study was undertaken at Cranfield School of Management combining a range of traditional research methods and samples including literature review, surveys of alumni, academics and futurists, interviews with recruiters and human resource (HR) managers, a Delphi study with international participants, and interviews and a focus group with business leaders. The results were then analysed and combined to form the pictures developed in this article and its counterpart.


Following on from Part 1, this paper proposes a new “élite” qualification for senior managers and leaders to replace the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in the marketplace. This would allow the MBA to become the graduate conversion course in business necessary as an entry point into management. The Master's in Business Leadership (MBL) focuses on the individual rather than curriculum, and is a personal development journey rather than a functional knowledge‐based experience, as there is an assumption that this knowledge base is already there prior to the course being undertaken. This paper concludes with a comparative analysis of the MBA, the MBL and the International Master's in Practising Management which Mintzberg has proferred as his alternative to the MBA.


This paper provides a comparison of MBA offerings and potential substitutes. It also suggests a new curriculum for senior management education to prepare people for leadership in the future, while repositioning the MBA as a mass graduate conversion programme. By putting forward one possible way forward in the management education market, this paper hopes to open discussion for further development of the international management education sector.



Blass, E. and Weight, P. (2005), "The MBA is dead – part 2: long live the MBL!", On the Horizon, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 241-248.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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