What is wrong with American corporations? Elon Musk says too many M.B.A.s. are polluting companies’ ability to think creatively and give customers what they really want.
His comments criticizing M.B.A.s came amid a broader conversation about leadership before an online audience during The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council annual summit, where he also encouraged executives to step away from their spreadsheets and get out of the boardroom and onto the factory floor.
“I think there might be too many M.B.A.s running companies,” the Tesla Inc. chief executive said. “There’s the M.B.A.-ization of America, which I think is maybe not that great. There should be more focus on the product or service itself, less time on board meetings, less time on financials.”
Many business-school leaders shot back, saying that Mr. Musk’s comments don’t match the reality of what is taught in M.B.A. programs and that more students than ever who are pursuing the graduate degree are interested in entrepreneurship and tech rather than Wall Street.
“I have nothing but the utmost respect for Elon, but he’s wrong to focus the blame on M.B.A.s,” said Robert Siegel, a lecturer in management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “I think he’s got a strong element of truth of what leaders should be focused on, but he is completely off base talking about M.B.A.s.”