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Passion, People and Principles

B-School competition on Human Capital

post # 446 — October 9, 2007 — a Managing post

I received an email from Susan D. Strayer, theDirector of Talent Management at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. She included a press release letting me (us) know that students from the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management who focus in human and organizational performance issues are hosting the nation’s first-ever competition focusing solely on human capital challenges.

The National MBA Human Capital Case Competition will be held in Nashville, Tenn. on Oct. 19-20. The teams will be judged by a panel of industry executives, including leaders from General Electric and Deloitte, who are sponsoring the competition. The teams will have the chance to win more than $30,000 in cash prizes.

Strayer (a 2007 grad of the Owen school) said “Some of the biggest obstacles companies of any size will face have to do with their employees. It’s imperative that business school students make employee-related issues as important as other avenues of business. That’s why Owen is taking the lead to elevate the study of human capital to be on the same level with marketing, finance and operations.”

For more information on the National MBA Human Capital Case Competition, log onto www.humancapitalcasecompetition.com.

I’m sure other business schools will take issue with the assertion that Vanderbilt is “taking the lead” here. Any current or recent B-school grads have anything interesting to report about the extent to which the “study of human capital” (horrible phrase) is being integrated into the curriculum and treated “at the same level with marketing, finance and operations”?


Mike DeWitt said:

There is no leading edge to the “study of human capital”. As you hint, the very phrasing is so out of step with enlightened management principles as to be completely credibility-crushing. Then again, I’m just a human capital widget. What do I know?

posted on October 9, 2007

Timothy Johnson said:

Hi David – I’m currently teaching an MBA course at Drake University called Leadership and Human Capital Development. While I didn’t get to choose the title (I, too, am not thrilled with the terminology of human capital), I did choose the curriculum. The semester is all about bringing out the best in our own leadership and in others. Instead of the “same old boring texts” I’m using books like “Kiss Theory Good Bye” (Prosen), “The No Asshole Rule” (Sutton), “The Power of Nice” (Kaplan Thaler and Kover), “Radical Leap” and “Radical Edge” (Farber), “Fun Works” (Yerkes), and “The Age of Conversation” (various). Sure, we’re discussing theory, but we’re doing it in the relevant context of WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON… out there in the business world and in their own cubicles. It’s been a great course so far… Vanderbilt influences notwithstanding.

posted on October 9, 2007