How does LSE’s commitment to ‘understanding the causes of things’ shape the way management is taught? Global Master’s in Management student Maieule de Carné reveals how different her graduate studies were from her undergraduate, and why it’s changed her perspective on business.
Having graduated with a degree in Business & Management with German, people asked me why I had then enrolled in the two-year Global Master’s in Management (GMiM). After all, wasn’t that just more of the same? They implied that I might be better off dedicating my postgraduate studies to specialising in a management-related topic instead. But although I already have a degree in Business and Management, this is an area that I wanted to understand further.
Based on my own research as well as on what I had been told about LSE, I believed that the way management is taught here is different from the typical business school Master’s in Management. It was this kind of postgraduate education that I was looking for.
My assumption was correct: drawing on my experience studying at a business school as an undergraduate, I find the approach adopted by LSE (as a Department of Management and not a business school) to teaching management very different.
During my undergraduate degree, my core courses in management involved studying a great deal of best practice, such as effectively managing strategic alliances and partnerships or performance management. It also entailed applying strategic frameworks such as Porter’s five forces or the McKinsey 7S to analyse specific case studies. My accounting and finance courses also focused on the application of frameworks and formulas.
In contrast, here at LSE there’s a much greater emphasis is laid on critical-thinking and writing. Theory and its application are only the bases of your reflections.
‘Understanding the causes of things’ is not just LSE’s motto. It’s engrained in the way any course is taught at the university. In my course, much of the workload consists of the substantial reading list for each module. However, spending a lot of time on reading does not only enable you to gain a deeper understanding of the material, but also to directly relate to the different authors, comparing their lines of thought and adopt a more critical view of their arguments. This is LSE’s way of doing things.
LSE’s focus on ‘understanding the causes of things’ is best illustrated by one of my core courses, Foundations of Management, which has taken me back to the roots of management theory.
My view of management was challenged: why do managers do what they do? What characterises the contemporary firm, why has it changed? How is the management profession changing, and what will the future look like?
A great deal of focus is put on the theory underlying the use of accounting and finance models and formulas, rather than on their simple application. The aim of this theoretical rather than purely mathematical approach is to improve our understanding of why managers use certain models, establishing a more critical view of their use.
One of the most interesting aspects was the inclusion of psychological theories into our management courses, mostly regarding the rationality of decision-making. As future managers or accountants, the extent to which we make rational choices is important. We must consider the biases affecting our judgement and learn about the different theories relating to decision-making. For example, we studied decision theory and applied it to the context of financial trading: we focused on the case of a rogue trader responsible for the collapse of a bank, which could partly be explained by theories in trader psychology such as ‘the illusion of control’.
Taking these aspects into account when thinking critically about management seems obvious, but it is not something I had considered before I was exposed to it at LSE.
This new approach to studying management has opened new ways of thinking about business, which was one of my main motivations for applying to the GMiM. I’m glad I did.
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