Wait, Top MBA Programs Block Grade Disclosure?

This post might go a bit on the cerebral side, but bear with me it should go along pretty quickly. Thanks to Marginal Revolution blog I learned that top MBA programs have a policy of grade non-disclosure (GND) which prevents students from revealing their grades or grade point average to potential employers.  This only applies to full time MBA students, not part-time students even if they are taking the same classes taught by the same professors.  This provided something of an opportunity for researchers to do a study  by making comparisons between the two groups.

What they found was:

We study the effects of grade non-disclosure (GND) policies implemented within MBA programs at highly ranked business schools. GND precludes students from revealing their grades and grade point averages (GPAs) to employers. In the labor market, we find that GND weakens the positive relation between GPA and employer desirability. During the MBA program, we find that GND reduces students’ academic effort within courses by approximately 4.9%, relative to comparable students not subject to the policy. Consistent with our model, in which abilities are potentially correlated and students can substitute effort towards other activities in order to signal GPA-related ability, students participate in more extracurricular activities and enroll in more difficult courses under GND…

What most interested me was the idea that while student effort decreased when they knew their grades wouldn’t be reported to potential employers, they were more likely to engage in extracurricular activities and take more difficult courses. (It should be noted most part time MBA students are already employed and taking classes for promotional opportunities. If their employer is paying, it is often contingent upon maintaining a certain GPA)

I recently made a post about how classroom grades are not an accurate reflection of future performance or capacity, extrapolating that to comment that not all metrics are meaningful to decision making. This is a similar situation. While they may prefer to have GPA revealed, employers will hire MBA graduates from top programs due to reputation, networking and the fact one was admitted to the school signals something about their economic, social and educational background.

Similarly, the work of top arts organizations in communities is perceived as valuable due to reputation, networking, and status of people attending associated with it. Like economic impact, none of these factors can be used to measure the quality and value of the work in the community.

Organizations with resources can afford to pay for product created by the highly skilled and provide a great experience. If that attracts people from out of town so they spend in restaurants, shops and hotels, then a lot of people are happy for its presence.

But if people within walking distance of the space don’t feel welcome there, does the organization have value to the community?

Neighbors feeling welcome may be just as problematic a metric as others, but why is economic impact the standard against which all cultural organizations are measured?  I feel like there is a growing trend on a local level toward valuing sense of welcome, especially post-Covid. Though I would argue given the mission statements of most non-profits, welcome should be more important than economic impact.

To a large degree we make conscious decisions about what is most important when we choose where to live, work, and play based on myriad personal and social criteria.  But we like to eliminate the nebulous factors and hew to lists created using arbitrary criteria. Which is why you can see five Best Places To Live articles a week where only a few places overlap. It is fun to see your favorite places on the list, but is that information helpful for decision making?

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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