A recent study in the Journal of Management Inquiry would seem to support anecdotes about chief executives with MBAs being increasingly more likely than other CEOs to engage in selfish, self-serving behavior — sometimes in ways that hurt their companies.
The study focused on well publicized, celebrity CEOs who had been on the cover of national business magazines and speculated on whether their fame was a “consequence” or a “facilitator” of self-serving behavior.
The study left unclear how much of their behavior can be linked to the promotion of selfishness in MBA education.
“We have not been able to establish whether current MBA programs actually promote self-serving behavior in subsequent careers or whether those with a selfish bent seek out MBA educations,” the authors wrote.
The research said that those with MBAs were more likely to have led costly initiatives to speed corporate growth, and thus swell their compensation, via, for example, acquisitions. These initiatives often lead to lower returns on assets and reduced cash flows.