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What They Teach You at Harvard Business School: My Two Years Inside the Cauldron of Capitalism Paperback – 7 Aug 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (7 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670917761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670917761
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 559,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Informative, wry, and well-written, this book will make rewarding and pleasurable reading for anybody wishing to understand why business is the way it is. (John Cassidy, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Dot.Con )


'Anyone considering enrolling will find this an insightful portrait of HBS life... he has put his class notes to good use by providing an excellent layman's guide'

'An insightful and entertaining, behind-the-scenes glimpse at a powerful institution'

'Original, clever, funny - and full of insights into one of the most influential instiutions in the world' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jay O. on 11 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
Philip Broughton went into the Harvard MBA like an anthroplogist goes to live with an obscure jungle tribe - this book works on the same principle of outsider wisdom, of the newcomer able to see just how strange the social norms of these hard-to-access cultures can be. Marvel at these elite MBA-ers and their language of "creating a developmental agenda for leveraging their reflected best-self"! Puzzle at the strong emphasis on business integrity and moral judgment, when fact is everyone's really there to learn how to make a lot of money. But, however odd, the Harvard MBA programme indubitably produces global business & economic leaders who shape a substantial portion of our lives, and so it's in everyone's interests to understand how this elite are taught to think.

'What They Teach You At Harvard Business School' is not just a guide to the economic and management concepts the MBA students study. Broughton does talk about these topics, giving examples of the Harvard study system of analysing hundreds of case studies. This method seeks to teach the students how to handle the chief challenge in business: making good decisions with inadequate information. It's no substitute for the actual course, largely because none of the examples' statistics are published in this book, but as a non-economist I definitely learnt a lot regardless.

But of wider relevance is Broughton's discussion of the 'hidden curriculum' of Harvard Business School, the assumptions it inculcates in its students and the distorted beliefs they already hold about work & the economy. What do they think is the value of the money they'll be earning, when will they know that they've made enough? "When you've got your own jet." Even the pre-arrival guide says, "Don't bring that guitar...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris on 14 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
Very dry and witty - Delves Broughton brings alive all the madness and hype of the American MBA system. He half makes you want to enrol, and half to avoid the place for the rest of your life.

What is particularly good is that it is full of interesting business theory from the MBA course, which is very stimulating.

No doubt this book will make HBS very irritated - which is a good reason to buy it, I think!!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. Khan on 1 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
Having just finished an MBA myself from London Business School, I saw this book at Heathrow on my way out of the UK and bought it with curiosity. I wanted to see whether my experience at London Business School would have been significantly different from that at a top American school; Harvard, of course, as far as MBA brands go, being number one in my opinion regardless of what competitors or any rankings say.

This book can be recommended to those interested in applying to Harvard or a comparable top MBA program to see if they have the right expectations of an MBA program; as well as to graduates of other programs to see how the experience at their schools compare against the holy grail of MBAs. It really goes inside what the MBA culture is about in general, especially at elitist schools, and at Harvard in particular. Broughton is not the only MBA who feels like this. The unreal world, the pressures, the tendency to go with the herd... despite having studied at a school across the atlantic, I continuously kept on smiling at the commonalities.

I disagree with the notion that this book disses the school, or the MBA in general. It just points out very well some of the absurdities of the program for all those who are not financial crackheads.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an account of life at Harvard Business School, an outline of what is taught there, and a pen portrait of the class, this is enjoyable reading. As someone who has also been incredibly fortunate to go there, even although just for one week, there was much i recognised. Harvard for me was a wonderful experience - , very hard work certainly, the case study learning is transformational and i found world class teaching and facilities, and incredibly talented class mates. This book reflects all of that, but it is also a little preachy at times about the lives of Harvard graduates- and in a way i didn't relate to. The author went to Harvard it seems, seeing himself as an outsider, and maintained a slightly cynical approach throughout. He was the only member of his class not to get or take a summer job, and one of tiny few not to be employed after he graduated. His gripes seem to be more to do with capitalism itself than HBS. He seems to think being successful must make you unhappy

HBS is what is described - it is fascinating, it does build confidence, it can be exhausting, and it is ethical in its approach to business. It does stimulate ambition and focus - but is it a factory for unhappy people as the author suggests - i don't think so - certainly not what i observed or felt there.

A good enough read though - if you approach the author's cynicism with some scepticism of your own
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Adrenalin Streams on 5 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a must-read for any student thinking of going to Harvard to study. Delves Broughton presents a very balanced view of the place, listing the many plus points as well as exposing the negatives. Clearly, Harvard is an immensely stimulating place to be and can be also be immensely rewarding and beneficial BUT only if you are the right kind of student. The downside of Harvard is that if you do not come from the right background (business/banking), and are of the wrong age group (over 30), or have seriously worked as an entrepreneur already, Harvard will not help your career. Delves Broughton, as a successful journalist in his early 30's, without a finance background, did very well on the course but found doors did not open for him. That does not surprise me. Years ago when I thought about studying for an MBA at one of the UK's top business schools, and having passed the entry exam, I was (honestly) advised by an entry tutor that with my (non-finance) background I would only have a 30% chance of a job after the course, compared to 80% for others. Happily I took heed of the advice and did not do the MBA - it would have been a waste of my money. With regard to Harvard, on the less pleasant side, is the attitude held by many tutors and students that being a Harvard graduate automatically makes you a world business leader - a sort of business aristocrat. Just reading of such attitudes provides a wonderful insight into how the current world financial crisis has occurred!! Back to the book - it is extremely well written and does not set out to do a hatchet job on Harvard. In fact, it is clear that Delves Broughton found his time there personally rewarding, but he proves that you need to be a round peg in a round hole to really gain the maximum from Harvard.
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