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MBA generalists in higher demand according to study

MBA students are often encouraged to specialise in certain topics like corporate finance, investment banking, marketing, strategy or supply management. But a new study by Jennifer Merluzzi, an assistant professor at the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University, found that the recommendations didn’t prove true in the real business world.


Picture: Tulane University

Merluzzi, who cooperated with Columbia Business School professor Damon Phillips, surveyed about 400 former MBA students that had graduated in 2008 and 2009 from a top-rated U.S. MBA programme.

The survey’s results surprised, as against common career advice, specialisation was not what most employers looked for but rather for employees who demonstrated accomplishment across many areas. The research, which was also featured in Harvard Business Review, yielded that graduates with specialised career profiles based on experiences before, during, and after graduation were met with less appealing job prospects. They received fewer offers and less compensation, compared to students with more generalist backgrounds according to Tulane University’s news outlet.

A specialist in our study was someone with a singular functional focus across activities,” explained Merluzzi on Tulane University’s website. “For instance, they worked in banking before the MBA programme, concentrated in finance and joined banking clubs in school before taking a job in investment banking.”

Generalists on the other hand had more diverse backgrounds and experiences and knowledge across several disciplines. “Employers would tell us that they would rather hire someone who demonstrated accomplishment across many areas,” Merluzzi is quotes. “They saw these individuals as more flexible resources and future leaders in their organisations.”

Read more at Tulane University

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