You may find these remarks cynical. You may find them helpful.



This is the age of corporate short-termism. Nothing matters except this quarter’s returns. Strategy implies long-range thinking. So no corporation does strategy any more. 

Academic strategy studies are so theory-bound that professors never look at real-world data. Not surprising, as no publicly listed company in the real world is strategizing anyway.


Strategic thinking is valuable for one’s own life and career. Governments, NGOs, and some smaller companies still indulge in it. 

Sustainability studies and strategy are starting to merge into one business discipline. This is good. Companies aren’t listening, but if enough graduates march out into the workplace, that might change.



Mortgage crisis. Enron. Wall Streetbailouts. Brokers who take customer’s money rather than husband it. Lehmann Brothers. Program trading and market crashes. ‘Nuff said?

Everybody used to need to know the basics of compound interest, but banks aren’t paying interest any more, so who cares? 

Financial markets are supposed to efficiently allocate capital to deserving businesses, but they don’t.

You never have the satisfaction of actually making something.

Pros: If you’re totally devoid of ethics,this is the field for you. OK, it’s more constructive to say, people without financial literacy never achieve savings and can’t retire. But you don’t need a whole major to learn that, or how to put together simple deals. (Complicated deals aren’t worth doing.) So I guess there are no pros.



Oh, please! It’s just all wrong. One prominent economist’s post-crash Congressional testimony used the phrase “disgraced profession.” 

Stay far away from any idea labeled “neoclassical.” 

Orthodox austerity prescriptions haven’t saved Greece, nor did they solve the Thai bhat crisis.

Pros: Modern heterodox variants, perhaps especially “behavioral economics,” hold promise of betterment, as does resurgence of Keynesianism.



A modern author,* taking off from Shakespeare’s “let’s kill all the lawyers,” wrote a hugely amusing passage on“let’s kill all the market researchers.” These things wouldn’t be funny unless they contained a grain or two of truth. 

Consumers are barraged with commercials.Corporations’ left hands don’t know what the right hands are doing. Marketing messages are for these reasons ignored, resented, or shown to be lies. 

Under the guise of helping people find the products they need – a transparent guise, when it’s presented in complex small print, like (for example) credit card offers – marketing manipulates and deceives. 


If you build a better mousetrap, the world will not beat a path to your door. Someone’s got to tell people there’s a new mousetrap, and why it’s better. 

If market research doesn’t more or less accurately tell manufacturers what people want, manufacturers will just make whatever they can make, Soviet-style, whether anyone wants it or not, and fail to make what we do want. 

If you’re good at “marketing analytics” (i.e., math), you can make a lot of money even if you don’t produce any useful answers.

Organizational Behavior

Cons: Face it, every organization you’ve ever worked for is dysfunctional. If colleges knew how to teach OB, they’d do so,and things would be different. There’s a reason Dilbert is funny.

Pros: Organizational development consultants do seem to make a living, if not a difference.

Human Resources


How can we know which applicant is the right one to hire? We can’t, right? Because HR professors have never figured out applicable theory, tools, or principles.

HR used to be called “personnel.” They changed it so it would sound warmer. I think it sounds chillier. And more chilling.

Pros: Employees need a shoulder to cry on, at those Dilbert moments. They need someone to mediate disputes and grievances. (See OB, above.) It’s gotta be either HR or the chaplain, and most companies don’t got chaplains.

Accounting and actuarial


You’ll be called “bean–counter,” and it will be gently suggested that you lack charisma.

You’ll have worked hard to master the complex US tax code. You’ll then lobby to prevent Congress from simplifying the tax code. This will strain your ethics.

Speaking of ethics, you know the one about “What is 2+2?” The physicist answers, “Four.” The engineer says, “Four, plus or minus a few percent.” The accountant asks, “What did you have in mind?”


Everyone and every enterprise needs accounting. Good managers revere good accountants. Truth.

Thus, barring nuclear disaster, you’ll always have a job.

Q: Wow, this is depressing! What about engineering instead of business?

A: Something to seriously consider. Or maybe a minor in computer science,as it’s been shown that business grads who know how to code get more and better job offers. A non-obvious heads-up: Engineering deans believe it takes 5 years to educate an engineer. University presidents pressure the deans to graduate kids in 4 years. As a result, graduate engineers go to work, feel lost, erroneously come to believe they’re bad engineers, and end up in MBA programs.(If this is you, start over again at the top of this column.)

Q: Yeah, and what about liberal arts?

A: A very, very good idea.


* LichfieldDean, The Garden Wall. Obooko, 2010.