the b-school option

I’m attending the Academy of Management meetings and should offer some observations soon. Until then, check out Chris’s post about a post-doc program that tries to introduce newly minted PhDs from the disciplines into a business school setting. These bridging programs are intended to take people who know little about the business school and introduce them to its styles of training and scholarship to entice them to take positions in b-schools, positions which apparently management PhDs are not entirely filling.  In the Inside to Higher Ed article, one of the post-docs offers his thoughts on the transition.

Asked about the transition, Hettche grew reflective.  “You have to give up part of what you thought you were,” he said. “That’s hard to re-invent yourself, but it’s exciting, too. It’s existential. You are what you make of your life.”

That comment really worries me.  Making a move to a setting in which you have no experience or little knowledge of is probably not the best career move.  You certainly shouldn’t do it just for the money, especially if you think the move would require a complete reinvention of yourself.  You just finished grad school, for heaven’s sake. That’s the time in your career when you should be enjoying who you’ve become, not contemplating making a complete transformation of your identity and research interests. People who make that sudden shift will likely fail anyway.  The standards of getting tenure in b-schools are certainly no more lax than they would be in a disciplinary department.  Too much time spent in reinvention is a very risky move.

I agree with Chris’s take:

i advise scholars contemplating a switch in disciplines to start publishing in the journals that will help them get tenure in the new discipline. if you can’t even identify the relevant business journals or associations, it is way too early to make a move.

Certain b-schools, of course, require no or few  changes in research emphasis when moving from a discipline. They’d be perfectly content if you only published in the top journals in your discipline. Those are the best departments for disciplinarians to be in.  But if you’re going to go the management route and choose a school that wants you to publish in the AOM journals, you ought to make sure that the move is something you really, really want to do and that you have a good familiarity with those journals and management research.

Written by brayden king

August 11, 2008 at 10:10 pm

Posted in academia, brayden

One Response

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  1. There is a so-called shortage of business PhDs but I believe, in many cases, job applications volume is higher than jobs accepted. I emphasize jobs accepted rather advertised job openings because top b-schools sometimes conduct job search that ends with no one accepting a job. In other words, tenure-track positions are not jobs that need to be urgently filled. Adjunct faculty can always do the teaching while the B-school scours for a few good persons, which can take years. Remember, those few good persons are hired mainly to publish and push the department up the ranking. Since the shortage is a figment of imagination, I would say “caveat emptor”. If you have to pay 30K to 40K, hmm…….

    That said, disciplinary training can’t hurt although exposure to business topics is helpful. Publishing in top business journals often require theoretical contribution that speaks either to some disciplinary crowd or an applied orientation, phenomenon crowd. Also, publishing in top disciplinary journals like ASR & AJS count towards tenure review in most b-schools as well.

    In other words, many top B-schools want top disciplinary graduates who do research in business topics. These graduates also need to handle the MBA students well. However, since the top disciplinary graduates can get jobs in their area, I’m curious as to where AACSB recruits its post-docs.


    Jay Chok

    August 17, 2008 at 5:53 am

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