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Tucker Carlson’s interview with the Wharton MBA who trashed Harvard MBAs

Posted by John Reed on

Ah! Duff McDonald the author of the book trashing Harvard Business School (The Golden Ticket) is now on Tucker Carlson talking about it.

First, he has an MBA from Wharton. I was not aware of that.

Did he have any good points? No. Total bullshit. He said we were taught only by spread sheets therefore come to believe nothing else matters because it cannot be quantified. That is a lie.

We were neither taught by spreadsheets nor were we taught nothing else matters. Actually, when numbers started to dominate a case discussion, a Harvard MBA student would often say, “If I were that interested in all that numerical stuff, I’d hire a Wharton guy to analyze it.” Then they would go on to identify the actual most important aspects of the case.

In fact, the summary comment I made to my college classmate who took me to class at the Wharton MBA program class one day after it was over was, “At Wharton, you are taught HOW TO COUNT. At Harvard, we are taught WHAT COUNTS.” In other words, McDonald is projecting the deficiencies of his own Wharton MBA program onto a Harvard program that actually is not guilty of them.

He said we were taught that only the short-term annual reports matter. No, we were not. That has been a criticism of public companies for decades. I heard that before I went to HBS, but not during. It is probably true of public corporations, but not of HBS. Incentives matter, as I will address again below, but it is the incentives of Wall Street not the teaching at HBS that makes public corporations short-term oriented.

He says we were taught to serve only the shareholders with regard to profit and share value. That’s a lie. The first place I heard the word “stakeholders” was at HBS.

He says our economy is increasingly fake and that is because we were taught to make it so at HBS. Total bullshit. We never had a single discussion remotely resembling that.

He said HBS fails to create an enlightened managerial class. By enlightened, he means liberal.

First, the vast majority of HBS grads are sickeningly liberal. People who are ignorant of the school like McDonald assume they are fascist money grubbers, but you could not do any real homework and come away with that notion. A recent issue of the HBS Bulletin, our alumni magazine, had a photo of one of my HBS section mates with Hillary. It was captioned “my friend Hillary.”

A great many work for non-profits like Grover Norquist. Steve Bannon and George W. Bush worked at the non-profit White House, Michael Bloomberg for NYC.

Secondly, one the the biggest differences between a West Point reunion and an HBS one is the HBS guys are all deeply involved in charities after about 20 years—often as founders and CEOs of the charities—not just giving to them. West Point guys are pretty much just retired.

He said HBS grads lack the “right moral framework.” How would he know anything about moral frameworks? The most famous grad of the Wharton MBA program is Michael Milken, the junk bond king who engineered a zillion leveraged buyouts. He pled guilty to felony violations of federal securities laws and went to jail. He had been indicted for racketeering, securities fraud and insider trading before agreeing to a plea bargain.

More recently he has reinvented himself as a philanthropist, not unlike Bill Gates whose corporation was convicted of criminal anti-trust violations. (Gates is a dropout of Harvard college and has no MBA.) Harvard Business has no monopoly on immorality. Nor do they have more bad guy grads than any other school as far as I know.

He said that the case method by which we were taught at Harvard has an amoral underbelly where there is no right answer to any case. There is some truth to that, but I would phrase it more like there may be another, better answer than the ones that emerged in the class discussion.

They deliberately include cases with moral issues in the curriculum. I would 100% agree that the teachers did not say what the right course was per se. They are a bit too enamored of the Socratic method.

At West Point, it was the opposite. We had an honor code and a whole bunch of hard, moral guidelines and demerits and expulsions for deviations. Apparently, that is the only thing McDonald would settle for at Harvard Business. But that suggests that if you teach the hell out of morality—which I guarantee you West Point does—that your graduates will be near perfectly moral.

Ha! In fact, when I was in the Army, I noted that the drafted, short-timer lawyers and doctors were the most moral, and the regular officers, including West Pointers, were routinely signing false documents. Why?

Because what matters is not education, but incentives. Refuse to sign a false document in the Army and they throw you out, as they did me. Sign one in law or medicine—including while you are in the Army—and your career is over. HBS rightly concludes they cannot inculcate integrity or morality and does not try. West Point incorrectly claims that they can and do and ignores the empirical evidence to the contrary from the grads in the Army.…/61085187-is-military-integrity-…

As I say in my Succeeding book, no one can be more honest than the least honest person above them in their chain of command. So integrity and morality comes from your DNA, childhood, and chain of command, not your grad school taxonomy.

Tucker said we HBSers run the U. S. economy. We wish. We probably have more grads in high business jobs than anyone else, but we have nowhere near the majority of the positions. There are not that many of us and many, like me, eschew corporate jobs.

The guy talks about HBS begin stuck in the 1980s. He also looks to be about 40. What the hell would he know about the 1980s? If he’s 40 now he was, what, eight in 1985?

He cites Apple as a corporation run by shareholders-only HBSers. I am sure there are such at Apple, but I could not name one.

Steve Jobs sure as hell was not one. Nor is Tim Cook. They might have a little responsibility for Apple. Plus, I do not think Apple is now, or ever was, shareholder centric. It was Steve Jobs centric, “insanely great” products centric, design centric. The erstwhile head of Apple, John Sculley, who almost bankrupted it, is a Wharton MBA. McDonald is little more than a liar.

Shame on Tucker for buying this guy’s generic, conventional wisdom, urban legend BS about HBS. It sounds like I did more research on Wharton in my one day there than he did on HBS for his 600-page book. Would someone please send this to Tucker and ask him to have me or another HBS MBA on to respond? 

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