Business careers involve many elements which lie outside the purview of higher education. The principal contribution which business schools can make is to help students apply general knowledge and special abilities to significant business problems. A variety of educational backgrounds is needed at all levels of company organizations but especially at upper management levels. Colleges and universities should concentrate on strengthening the students' powers of imaginative thinking. Business schools should concentrate on helping students apply background knowledge and general-purpose tools to significant business problems.
The problems encountered in running a business organization define the special province of business education while the staffing needs of these organizations determine how graduates of business schools will be employed. Any appraisal of academic work in this area must therefore consider the question of employer requirements for qualified personnel. In turning to the "market" for guidance, however, the business schools confront a welter of opinion. Among some 4¼million operators of nonfarm companies in this country, of whom over two-thirds hire three employees or less, it would be surprising indeed if anything approaching consensus could be obtained on what business schools should seek to achieve, especially if the views of individuals at different levels of responsibility within firms are given proper weight.
Even with respect to the corporate sector, which includes the most influential companies, extreme care has to be exercised in interpreting employer thinking and practice because of the diversity of their needs, experience, and backgrounds.1 Few employers and company officers____________________