Restructuring MBA Programs for Leadership Development: Critical and Creative Thinking as a Strategic Framework

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

John R. Murray


Recent studies commissioned by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business and the Graduate Management Admission Council report a disturbing lack of fit between the managerial needs of today's corporate environment and the skills and perspectives of Master in Business Administration (MBA) degree recipients. Both reports articulate objectives for future MBA graduates and call for evaluation of MBA programs, particularly of faculty and curriculums. A comparison of the objectives for MBA graduates with a broad survey of leadership skill and attributes. A further comparison of leadership research and the desired MBA profile with taxonomies of critical and creative thinking skills and attributes suggests 1) that effective leaders are critical and creative thinkers, and 2) that the field of Critical and Creative Thinking therefore offers an unusually appropriate framework for restructuring MBA programs. A working definition of critical and creative thinking is provided, and a model reflects the relationship between GMAC goals, leadership, and critical and creative thinking, and frames the concept of leadership, and critical and creative thinking, and frames the concept, of leadership, in developmental terms. Theoretical support for the argument the Critical and Creative Thinking offers a potentially valuable pedagogical framework for leadership development is drawn from the field of moral education, with emphasis on moral atmosphere, just communities, and multiple perspective taking: and from the field of cognitive psychology, with emphasis on conceptual change and the role of hierarchical knowledge structures and concept mapping in unstructured problem solving. These lines of support are responsive to the finding that leaders are characterized by high levels of moral and cognitive development, which interact to foster personal and interpersonal skills and habits of mind. Implications and suggestions are provided for reform of the MBA curriculum; teaching methods and materials (including the case method): student recruitment; and faculty development and qualifications (including implications for PhD programs, staff structure, and tenure policy). Possibilities for future research, and a proposal for a Certificate of Advanced Study in Managerial Leadership, are briefly discussed.


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