Friday, April 20, 2007

On the Wharton Experience and INSEAD Weakness 4

Classes stopped earlier this week in Wharton, and people are starting to come back. The Wharton exchange is a 2 month-period. Because it is half a term in Wharton, you can only take mini-electives.

When I ask the question of how nice it was, and the person starts by "It's ok", I expect the "but".
What is the "but" of Wharton exchange programme?
Apparently, the whole experience is very different from INSEAD and per se very interesting: huge campus with students from theology, economics, to nurses (it seems there nurses schools location are correlated to MBAs as well, we've got ours too over here... but there they've got interactions...), inpressive history etc.
Ok, now for the "but". There seem to be of three kinds.
First, the minis selection is limited. It's ok if you're looking for a job in parallel, otherwise it's a poor ROI for so much hassle.
Second, the clique is small because for some reason you're not wholly part of the big MBA... It's ok if you go with close friends or if there are lots of INSEADs, otherwise you just end up with the same small group of people.
Third, and foremost, the culture. If you fit with INSEAD multicultural spirit, you head for a shock. It's all American -even so-called other nationalities are Americanized. Cases are American companies, participants are Americans, Profs take for granted that you are American. In one of the courses, apparently when the Prof. asked about the Brits to come forward, there was not a single one. Unthinkable over here. It's ok because the US is at the forefront of lots of things, and if you want to experience the truly American way, otherwise it can be frustrating.
Having indulge in a top 3 MBA bashing, I can now expose INSEAD's major weakness, to me: the (in)consistency of Professoral Excellence at Core Courses level (Electives, because there have different dynamics, consistently provide the Star Professors to MBAs). Now, let's start with some caveats. To claim it is a weakness vis-a-vis the rest, would suggest other Top 10 MBAs are consistent. I had a housemate in Singapore from Wharton, he too admitted to some inconsistency in excellence levels over there.
INSEAD combines the following disadvantages: 2 campuses, 2 intakes per year, and 3 semi sections per intake. That means you basically need 6 professors in a calendar year. Now you can stretch some to Singapore on top of Fonty, but you can't stretch them on a full year. As a consequence, levels are bound to be unequal: there are only that many Star Professors on the world market, and INSEAD probably has that many Euros to spend on them.
Again, I'm convinced other top institutions have "Wow" faculty and "Arf" faculty, but because their throughput has not the same pace, it might not be as serious.
Now, maybe I'm lucky, but all my P1/P2/P3 Core Profs were at least good, and I had a good chunk of INSEAD Core Stars: Michael, Thomas, Enrico, Igor, Theo, Pascal, Ivan, Tim.
To finish on a positive note, despite the fact that all Core Profs are not stars, regardless of your intake, you'll get the chance of this unique, admirable Course Structure. I can't help but to stay amazed and speechless in front of such an intelligent, dynamic, interactive, integrated, cohesive Core Courses structure from P1 to P3. The concentration of the experience makes the learning process even more profound. I've written about it in P2 Courses, but it's even more acute with time.
Ok, enough rambling, need to get ready for Ibiza Spanish Week Party. I have to say, the Spanish Week is a bit hit. Today was San Jordi Day: guys had to offer a rose to girls, and they had to offer a book to them. Smart people, they've invented reciprocation for girls too...

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