Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: The Sad History of American Business Schools
Published by: Cornell University Press
Imprint: Cornell University Press
Published: October 2021
288 Pages, 5.80 x 8.90 x 0.80 in
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Do business schools actually make good on their promises of "innovative," "outside-the-box" thinking to train business leaders who will put society ahead of money-making? Do they help society by making better business leaders? No, they don't, Steven Conn asserts, and what's more they never have.
In throwing down a gauntlet on the business of business schools, Conn's Nothing Succeeds Like Failure examines the frictions, conflicts, and contradictions at the heart of these enterprises and details the way business schools have failed to resolve them. Beginning with founding of the Wharton School in 1881, Conn measures these schools' aspirations against their actual accomplishments and tells the full and disappointing history of missed opportunities, unmet aspirations, and educational mistakes. Conn then poses a set of crucial questions about the role and function of American business schools. The results aren't pretty.
Posing a set of crucial questions about the function of American business schools, Nothing Succeeds Like Failure is pugnacious and controversial. Deeply researched and fun to read, Nothing Succeeds Like Failure argues that the impressive façades of business school buildings resemble nothing so much as collegiate versions of Oz. Conn pulls back the curtain to reveal a story of failure to meet the expectations of the public, their missions, their graduates, and their own lofty aspirations of producing moral and ethical business leaders.
Introduction: No Success Like Failure: Business Schools and American Higher Education
1. The World Before (and Shortly After) Wharton: Getting a Business Education in the Nineteenth Century
2. Teach the Children... What? Business Schools and Their Curricular Confusions
3. Dismal Science versus Applied Economics: The Unhappy Relationship between Business Schools and Economics Departments
4. It's a White Man's World: Women and African Americans in Business Schools
5. Good in a Crisis? How Business Schools Responded to Economic Downturns - or Didn't
6. Same as It Ever Was: How Business Schools Helped Create the New Gilded Age
"Conn's overall position on B-School failures is clear... few have done so using a historical lens so rich in anecdote."Times Higher Education
"Steven Conn is a respected historian, and Nothing Succeeds Like Failure deserves high praise."Choice
"An exceptionally informed, iconoclastic, and thought-provoking read throughout, Nothing Succeeds Like Failure is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to both college and university library Business Education & Reference collections."Midwest Book Review
"Conn draws upon his scholarly skills to tell this story with a light touch. A lively choice for readers who are skeptical of the claims of business schools to train leaders with an ethical perspective."Library Journal
"Historian Steven Conn has produced a gleeful roast of the American business school."History of Education Quarterly