Professional school obsession: an enduring yet shifting rhetoric by U.S. business schools

Üsdiken, Behlül and Kipping, Matthias and Engwall, Lars (2021) Professional school obsession: an enduring yet shifting rhetoric by U.S. business schools. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 20 (3). pp. 442-458. ISSN 1537-260X

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Over the past two decades, prompted in part by a series of corporate scandals, different views have been voiced about whyU.S. business schools have purportedly lost their originalambitiontobecomeprofessional schoolsand, thus, tomakemanagementa"true" profession, and how this ambition could be restored. This paper puts these debates into a longer-termperspectivebyshowingthatsuchclaimshavebeenpresentformorethanacentury. Thepaperexaminestheevolvingrhetoricoftheprotagonistsandtheircriticsoverfive periods, eachmarkedbydifferentcontexts,whichshapedtheambitions of schools ofbusiness to be recognized as professional schools. These claims, the paper shows, had a common thread for over 100 years, which was the recurring reference to other professional schools-namely those ofmedicine and law, and at times engineering,which had already achieved the coveted status when U.S. business schools first originated. We ultimately argue that, given the rhetorical nature of these claims, suggestions that business schools lost theirwayoroughttoreturntosomeidealizedpastarelargelyfutile.Futurediscussions should therefore focus on purpose and power rather than profession.
Item Type: Article
Divisions: Sabancı Business School
Depositing User: Behlül Üsdiken
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2022 16:41
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2022 16:41

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