Directions (1- 10): Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below them. Certain words/phrases have been printed in bold to help you locate them while answering some of the questions.
For years I kept a phrenology bust in my office. My colleagues had various reactions to it: some were amused; some were perplexed or even embarrassed. But it reminded us of the perils of junk science, proof that a little learning is a dangerous thing. Phrenology, the “science” of attributing one’s personality to cranial features, arose in the nineteenth century, at the dawn of the field of psychology. At that time, the notion of personality entered the popular mind and physiological foundations for personality, if not rigorously documented, seemed plausible. More than a century later, the field of psychobiology is booming, and phrenology has no place in it. The wheels of scientific study grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine. Discredited by the absence of rigorous theory or empirical evidence, phrenology was tossed into the dustbin. A lot of learning overcame the initial error caused by a little learning.
Every field has its equivalent to phrenology. Business is no exception. Business practitioners are pragmatists, prone to assume that what works is what works. Where markets function smoothly and there is open competition among ideas, pragmatism serves pretty well. But like phrenologists in an earlier day, pragmatists are occasionally seized by ideas that seem plausible and help to explain events in a limited arena but are backed by no evidence, sound logic, or general efficacy. Such ideas can do more harm than good. In my writing, I have criticized some of the modern-day phrenologies: conglomerate diversification, bigger is better, the merger of equals, and momentum management. The worst phrenologies of the twentieth century, Marxism and Nazism, taught us the evil consequence of failing to challenge humbug and to do so quickly.
But ideas mill about because of a little learning. Thomas Jefferson argued that the antidote to a little leaning is a lot of learning: “Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.” The key to Jefferson’s antidote is the liberality of one’s learning, the sampling of diverse ideas and facts. About 50 years ago, A. Whitney Griswold, president of Yale University, wrote, “The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education.”
With alarm I note the educational trend toward narrow vocationalism, even in business schools. Business phrenologies breed in the back alleys of the field. Where thinking can get warped – The poster child here is Enron’s aggressive use of special purpose entities. Though the practitioner needs to be his or her own best teacher, business schools and institutes can help one get a lot of learning. At its best, the M.B.A. has stood for liberal training across the business specialties and for a graduate who can smell humbug and not be afraid to say so. Learning based on uncritical, rote memorization is no preparation for a career of action and risk taking but is exactly what your local phrenologist depends on. Instead, the learning that matter, requires testing and debate. That’s why discussion based education is so important: it exercises skills of analysis and argument. And it is why penetrating research is crucial. The humanistic tradition of transparent documentation, hypothesis testing, replication of experiments, and debate is the antidote to a little learning. And it is the source of ideas from academics that improve business practice, such as business ethics, linear programming, conjoint analysis, and theory of option pricing.
Do we need schools to help us learn? The internet has sprouted many degree programs. Aren’t these just as good as the program based in physical places? I do not think so, for at least two reasons. First, learning is deeper and richer when it occurs in a group. As T.S. Eliot said. “There is no life that is not lived in community.” Learning on the Internet remains a solitary experience. I doubt that the chat room can replace in-person peer coaching, challenge, and debate. Second, learning is better with a teacher. Raw ingredients and a good kitchen aren’t enough to make a great meal. Economist Paul Romer has argued that a good cooking requires the human elements of creativity and leadership. So it is with learning: the teacher’s creativity organizes the resources and leads the students to insight.
Disillusionment about the mission of business learning creates a downward spiral of poor engagement between practitioners and business schools. It’s a race to the bottom: practitioners ask less and less and the schools oblige. For instance, executives seem to want fewer days in training and less nuance, discussion and recollection. Corporate recruiters are demanding narrowly trained M.B.A.s exactly when we need liberally trained professionals. At the heart of each of the 22 business scandals that erupted between 1998 and 2002 lay a bad idea cradled by narrow, self-serving professionalism. The slump in corporate and individual philanthropy will chill the business learning that occurs through research, especially the challenging, provocative new work. Many schools, in turn, humbled by their financial problems and the business scandals, have hunkered down into a customer-service mentality, focusing on marketing and league tales. Rapid imitation, and toning down the mission of social criticism, testing and argument. Put this all together and it’s like a picture by Brueghel or Hogarth, in which people are leaving undone the things that ought to be done and doing the other.
Yes, I remain cautiously optimistic. The interface between business practice and the academy is a market of ideas. As Joseph Schumpeter wrote 62 years ago, free markets will self-correct, led by entrepreneurs, agents of charge who find their opportunities whatever they see room for improvement. Dissatisfaction with the race to the bottom will eventually spur agents of change – both scholars and thoughtful practitioners – to offer a better model for business learning.
Q1. Author compares phrenology with present day management education in business schools because:
(a) management education prepares the students to take decisions on the basis of cranial features.
(b) both phrenology and management education prepares students to become pragmatists.
(c) management education is not preparing the students in the area of critically analyzing the modern-day business phrenologies.
(d) wheels of scientific study grind slowly and over a period of time phrenology has transitioned into management science.
(e) None of the above
Q2. Which of the following statement is false in the context of the passage?
(a) The author advocates for a liberal education that includes diverse ideas and facts to counteract narrow vocationalism.
(b) The internet-based degree programs are more effective than traditional in-person programs for deeper and richer learning.
(c) The passage emphasizes the importance of challenging bad ideas quickly, as demonstrated by the negative consequences of phrenology, Marxism, and Nazism.
(d) The author expresses cautious optimism that dissatisfaction with the current state of business education will eventually lead to positive changes and a better model for learning.
(e) All of the above
Q3. Self-serving professionalism, as used in the passage, refers to
(a) professionalism for serving the cause of management
(b) professionalism of selfish people
(c) amateurism that excludes stakeholders
(d) Both (b) and (c)
(e) None of the above
Q4. How does the author view the role of the internet in learning, especially in comparison to traditional in-person education?
(a) The internet is superior for all types of learning.
(b) Learning on the internet is a solitary experience.
(c) The chat room can replace in-person peer coaching effectively.
(d) Both traditional and online learning are equally effective.
(e) In-person peer coaching is irrelevant in the modern era.
Q5. Author believes that business learning is required more than ever in present times because
(a) corporate recruiters are demanding narrowly trained business graduates (M.B.A.).
(b) business schools can teach modern-day business phrenlogies.
(c) slump in corporate and individual philanthropy, which has a negative impact on the financial conditions of business school, need to be corrected with the help of business education.
(d) business learning and penetrating research can provide ideas for improving business practices.
(e) None of the above
Q6. According to the author, business education should have?
(a) high spread and low depth so as to create more generalists than specialists
(b) greater focus on requirements of corporate recruiters
(c) learning based on principles of falsification
(d) no role in today’s world as practitioner needs to be his or her own teacher
(e) All of the above
Q7. Which of the following will NOT be an apt title of this passage?
(a) Pathology of Management Education
(b) Management Education at Crossroads
(c) End of Executive MBA Education
(d) Little Learning is a Dangerous Thing
(e) All of the above
Q8. Which of the following words is the nearest to the word ‘plausible’ used in the passage?
Q9. Which of the following words is the farthest to the word ‘perplexed’ used in the passage?
Q10. Which of the following words is the nearest to the word ‘hunkered down’ used in the passage?
S1. Ans. (c)
Sol. Refer to the fourth paragraph of the passage “Learning based on uncritical, rote memorization is no preparation for a career of action and risk taking but is exactly what your local phrenologist depends on.”
S2. Ans. (b)
Sol. This statement is false in the context of the passage. The passage suggests that learning is deeper and richer when it occurs in a group, and the author doubts that chat rooms on the internet can replace in-person peer coaching, challenge, and debate.
S3. Ans. (a)
Sol. Referring to the second last paragraph of the passage we can infer that Self-serving professionalism refers to professionalism for serving the cause of management.
S4. Ans. (b)
Sol. The passage mentions “Learning on the Internet remains a solitary experience. I doubt that the chat room can replace in-person peer coaching, challenge, and debate.”
S5. Ans. (d)
Sol. Refer to the last paragraph of the passage. His motto is to bring about an improvement in business practices.
S6. Ans. (d)
Sol. Refer to the fourth sentence of the fourth paragraph “Though the practitioner needs to be his or her own best teacher, business schools and institutes can help one get a lot of learning.”
S7. Ans. (c)
Sol. ‘End of Executive MBA Education’ will not be an apt title of this passage. The author does not wish an end, but adjustments.
S8. Ans. (d)
Sol. Plausible means seeming reasonable or probable. Hence it has similar meaning as ‘credible’.
S9. Ans. (c)
Sol. Perplexed means completely baffled, very puzzled, which is opposite to the meaning as ‘composed’.
S10. Ans. (b)
Sol. Hunkered down means hold resolutely or stubbornly to a policy, opinion, etc., when confronted by criticism, opposition, or unfavourable circumstances.