Should More Transparency Extend to Education for Management?

The pros and cons of grade disclosure is a hot topic at business schools these days, including Harvard Business School. Should students have to disclose their grades to recruiters? And how does this issue connect to the need for greater transparency in business generally?
by James Heskett

Summing Up

Questions concerning grade disclosure, voluntary or not, elicited a great deal of response from those readers exposed to every facet of the issue. Opinion on the immediate issue of disclosure was evenly divided. But a third group was composed of readers favoring the disclosure only of grades providing some evidence of possible future success on the job. They raised the most provocative questions for all of us to continue to ponder.

Cheri Thomas led the opposition to disclosure, commenting, "Yikes, what an awful idea! . . . Grade disclosure would exacerbate it [grade grubbing] to an intolerable level." Erik Holmberg questions the spotlight that disclosure would place only on grades when he says: "I know many people who were academic superstars who are also the worst managers I have ever met . . . Disclosing grades would place a greater weight on grades than is necessary. . . ." Rakesh Seth, arguing that "at the MBA level there should not be any grading system," said, "whoever is admitted has already passed through certain filters, such as the GMAT . . . ." Sandi Edgar added, "The mere accomplishment of obtaining an MBA serves as a successful recruiting tool; disclosing the grades required to get there is not necessary."

On the other hand, many respondents believed that transparency in management should extend in some form to the educational process. In advocating grade disclosure, John Inman said, " . . . this [master's and doctoral work] is when we focus our passion, and this work should reflect our abilities in a chosen field." As Robert Downing put it, "I suspect that most employers do not use grades as their sole hiring criteria. However, grades might help distinguish between two otherwise apparently equal applicants." Anshu Vats expressed his enthusiasm by commenting, "If revealing the students' grades leads to an increasingly competitive classroom, great! Welcome to the meritocracy."

Others were more cautious, suggesting other challenges for educators, recruiters, and students. Manohar Kamath put it this way: "We need to extend transparency. If grades do not predict work performance, then there is a problem in the design of management education." Michael Robbins wrote, "We need schools to lead the way to valid indicators of executive performance. . . . Before revealing grades, academics should reveal the utility of grades!" Deepak Alse commented: "Accountability and transparency have no areas for exceptions. Real learning cannot happen in the absence of these two factors. However, current evaluation methods in B-schools are flawed because they fail to account for the fact that management is less about writing and analyzing and more about getting things done!"

What's the problem? Are grading methods broken? If so, what could be done to fix them? Or is any information about academic performance better than nothing in the hands of knowledgeable recruiters when it comes to transparency? And what is the net effect on the educational process of grade disclosure? What do you think?

Original Article

Disclosure of grades to recruiters and others has been an important topic of discussion on several business school campuses this fall. At Harvard Business School, 87 percent of the MBA student body, according to one poll, opposed the administration's decision to allow the voluntary disclosure of their grades by individual students, presumably to organizations in which they might be attempting to secure jobs.

Among other things, students argued that even voluntary disclosure would: (1) pressure everyone to disclose their grades, (2) lead to competitive behaviors injurious to the learning process in the classroom, and (3) place too much emphasis on one dimension of behavior whose predictive reliability of future performance is dubious at best. Administrators maintained that voluntary disclosure: (1) leaves the matter up to the individual, (2) will allow outstanding performance in a particular course (which would go unrecognized if it did not lead to more general "honors" recognition) to be disclosed to other interested parties, and (3) would create subtle pressures that would raise the quality of preparation for, and involvement in, class discussion and other academic activities.

The issue may be seen by some as one of a general category related to transparency in business. In recent years, the predominant practice among leading business schools has become one of voluntary disclosure. It is certainly one favored by recruiters seeking all the information they can about prospective job candidates. And it can be argued that it offers students with highly variable grades the opportunity to disclose selectively only the best of those grades to recruiters who might have the most interest in them, a practice that might be regarded as relatively harmless academic "spinning" of information.

One can argue that those preparing themselves for management will have to face the "judgment day" of public knowledge of their performance at some time in the future, although public knowledge rarely extends very deeply into an organization. But is the management classroom the place for increased transparency? Not only might non-disclosure foster a more cooperative classroom culture, but it can also be argued that it shields poorer performers from the glare of at least semi-public knowledge of their academic performance while they are attempting to hone their skills. Interestingly, few executive education programs of which I am aware provide any kind of post-course evaluation to the participants' sponsoring organizations. Most schools resist all requests for such information.

Should the quality of the educational process be the primary concern in the debate over grade disclosure? If so, what are the effects of grade disclosure, even voluntary, on the process? Are there other, more important ways of injecting greater transparency into the educational process? For example, should more emphasis be placed instead on the measurement of performance of entire schools, faculties, and graduates? Or should the issue of transparency even be extended to education for management? What do you think?

    • Umar Hayat
    • Senior Regeneration Officer, Local Government

    Here in the U.K. we state our grades on our CVs and job application forms. It is considered standard practice when applying for jobs. The initial selection is made on grades and experience; then the recruiting company selects a short list of candidates to interview. In the U.K. we do not have any problem disclosing our grades.

    • Robert E. Downing
    • Senior Organizational Development Facilitator

    I approach this topic with considerable bias, as I have been a recruiter for different organizations and worked in career services for a major university. If I were to write an article for business students on the topic of grade disclosure, it might be titled "Welcome to the Real World." The management classroom is the place for increased transparency for the following reasons.

    To use some business school terminology, the school is the producer, the students are the products, and the employer is the consumer.

    The consumer determines which products he/she wants to buy (or hire), and the consumer determines which factors are desirable as part of making that choice. The consumer can chose between several products (students), from several producers (schools) to purchase the product that best meets his/her needs.

    It is my understanding that Harvard's position is that grade disclosure is voluntary. Additionally, it is worth remembering that as a recruiter I would be looking for students who add value to my organization. Part of my job—and the organization's responsibility—is to make the best possible hiring decision. Employers want all the data that can help in that process.

    I suspect that most employers do not use grades as their sole hiring criterion. However, grades might help distinguish between two otherwise apparently equal applicants.

    Further, the hiring process is the bridge between the academic world and the world of work (the "real world"). If a student cannot meet the employer's expectations during the hiring process, then it may be legitimate to ask if the student (as an employee) would meet the employer's expectations.

    If we think of the interview/hiring process as a marketing project, then how can the students best present themselves (the product) to the customers? I suggest that they give the desired information to the customers (potential employers).

    In conclusion, I would encourage students to remember that when employers hire someone they have made a choice between several or many candidates. It is in the student's best interest to provide all the information that the employer needs to make that decision. If students make it difficult or do not provide the requested information, then the employer may choose another product.

    • Deepak Alse
    • System Design Engineer-VNGN PLM, Wipro Technologies

    Accountability and transparency have no areas for exceptions. Real learning cannot happen in the absence of these two factors. However, current evaluation methods in B-schools are flawed because they fail to account for the fact that management is less about writing and analyzing and more about getting things done!

    With their focus on analysis and goal-oriented thinking based on a set of known factors, B-school evaluations fail to appreciate that successful leadership is often about acting at the right moment and working with a team—a skill that individual-level evaluations cannot judge. In fact, simulation tests would be far more appropriate. So voluntary disclosure helps students live with the reality that no one ever excels at everything in life, and success is often measured in terms of what we contribute—not just what we are capable of thinking about.

    • Manohar Kamath
    • Partner,

    We need to extend transparency. If grades do not predict work performance, then there is a problem in the design of management education. One should ensure that grades and performance, at work and in general, are tracked. Then one can design the educational program better.

    If there is no relationship between grades and performance, then what is the purpose of grades? Management education has far more clear goals and objectives than other streams. And we should be able to state these goals and measure them.

    • David Keaveney
    • President & CEO, MotorSports Emporium, Inc.

    In my opinion, disclosure of college grades is a big mistake that invites unnecessary stress and unhealthy competition among students. In Nicole Ridgway's The Running of the Bulls: Inside the Cutthroat World of Wharton Undergraduates and the Making of Wall Street's Young Elite, several Wharton students subjected themselves to horrific levels of stress simply to increase their GPA fractionally in the hopes of gaining a competitive advantage over their peers.

    The general public is not interested in a CEO's college GPA; rather the public is concerned with his or her overall job performance. If executives graduate with honors from a preeminent business school but their overall job performance is poor, shareholders will hold them accountable regardless of their college grades.

    Should business executives become required to attend executive education classes, I would welcome mandatory grade disclosure. Transparency of an executive's grades becomes more relevant than college scores because the public would not look too kindly on executives who receive average or poor grades in corporate coursework.

    • Andrew Graham

    This sounds like a classic game theory situation. The students (if worried) should consider their statistics and especially Bayes' Theorem. First, how is the behavior of the hiring firms affected by knowing the grades? If firms believe that future performance is not predicted by grades, then the student is not helped or harmed; if they believe that grades are a predictor, then they should be allowed this information. (Or does HBS not believe in its own grades?)

    Second, how is student behavior affected by the disclosure? To say it might make the class dynamics more competitive suggests that students ignore the fact that life can be both cooperative and competitive. Better get used to it in class in order to prepare for it outside. If students believe grades are predictive, then be prepared to disclose them. And if a student believes otherwise, it's a proper topic for the interview (and probably much more revealing to both interviewee and interviewer than the bland grade number). If grade disclosure is the tipping point between a job offer or rejection, perhaps that firm is not the best match.

    • Saurabh Gautam
    • Samsara Group, India

    The whole idea of grades relating to recruitment is a non-issue from the Indian management student's perspective. From time immemorial we have been taught to excel in education and that meant transferring hard work and intelligence into grades, marks, or percentages, whatever evaluation system we may use.

    When most of the grading systems are relative, it becomes all the more necessary for recruiters to know the grades of prospective candidates.

    Organizations recruit for a particular job profile rather than for a particular grade. If an organization has a preference for grades and you prefer otherwise, than you will never gel with the organizational culture: You are simply not the one for that particular job profile, nothing more, nothing less.

    Students who feel that revealing grades to recruiters may hamper their chance of selection can follow one of two options. First, get in the groove and align with the system and score. Second, be yourself, understand yourself, and try to be the "best fit" to the dream organization.

    Mark Twain wrote, "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." I would add "schooling or grades." It does not matter really what grades you get. Personally, I believe grades do not always reflect intelligence.

    My MBA experience tells me to have a resume reflecting the "true you." Your potential, both achieved and latent, is more than any one aspect.

    • David R. Wesley

    Years ago when we were colleagues, you a teacher and I the Director of Career Development, the same issue was on the table. I was a loud voice in opposition to allowing aggressive recruiters with very deep pockets accessing young, first-year students and inordinately influencing their career choices.

    We instituted a first-year requirement for career assessment and planning that we envisioned would be a lifelong endeavor. We counseled students to become experts on companies that were lead-ins to their career tracks, and then to approach the companies with a barrage of highly informed questions that would demonstrate their understanding and qualifications. The idea was that when a profit-responsible general manager of a prospect company heard them, he or she would have no choice but to consider them based on their ability to contribute to the bottom line.

    The disclosure of grades then was not unimportant but it was secondary to the value demonstrated by a candidate. It's still the same. The only reason a business in a competitive environment should consider a candidate is his or her ability to deliver.
    Grades are but one variable.

    • Ashutosh Tiwari
    • International Finance Corporation-SEDF

    Of course, it would be nice to live in a world without grades or in which grades did not matter. But for people who attend schools like HBS, living in such a world becomes possible usually after the first post-MBA job. Then work performance matters a lot more than grades earned in school.

    At the start of a career, what's wrong with certain firms using grades as one of many different data points to pick and choose from in finding the person they want to hire? Such a process is akin to MBA admissions committees using grades as one of many data points to decide who to let in and who to reject.

    • Scott
    • Project Manager, Tokyo

    Perhaps the most compelling argument for disclosing grades discussed here is the supposed preparation students receive for succeeding in the "meritocracy" awaiting them upon graduation. Recruiters, together with a minority of students, are apparently the biggest fans of disclosure. The realistic proponents admit that grades are an imperfect metric, but, they claim, at least grades serve as evidence that a given student can achieve success in school.

    Opponents of disclosure like to cite examples of grades failing as indicators of professional success. But stating that grades are imperfect, true though it may be, is not an effective argument against their disclosure.

    Rather, the discussion needs to focus on what B-school should be and whether grade disclosure is detrimental to that. Despite arguments that it should be a meritocracy because that supposedly best prepares students for the meritocracy of the workplace, I believe that grades should be undisclosed. If experience in a meritocracy were what one needed to succeed at work, then one should simply stay there instead of going to B-school, which is at least a different meritocratic environment than work, if not a mostly academic one. School is valuable precisely because it is different from work, and it should remain so. It should be a place to try new ideas and generate knowledge.

    As one who has experienced the frustration that comes with school getting in the way of education, I hope when I go to B-school next year I will find a collaborative environment where I'm constantly challenged and taught by my peers and professors. Without grades, what will motivate me to work hard and succeed? Achieving a return on an investment of two years and a lot of money is all the motivation I'll need to soak up as much education as possible.

    • Abdul Moiz Penkar
    • Manager, New Business Development, Pronto Promotionals

    Grades disclosure would be useful. I can avoid hiring the high-graders!

    • Cheri Thomas (HBS MBA '80)
    • Commercial Real Estate Investments, NAI Mathews Partners

    Yikes, what an awful idea! Having been both a student and a faculty member at HBS, to me the most dysfunctional behavior in the classroom was "grade grubbing." Grade disclosure would exacerbate it to an intolerable level. And "voluntary" disclosure is like voluntary testimony. If you plead the Fifth you are automatically suspect.

    Transparency on only one metric is more distorting than opacity. Imagine if investors' only metric information for corporations was gross margin. Would this help investment decision making versus no quantitative information at all? Couldn't we guess that the management or manipulation of gross margin suddenly trump all other corporate activities?

    • Erik R. Holmberg
    • Employee Development Trainer, U.S. Bank

    I agree that grades are an excellent way to measure a person's general knowledge. However, I do not feel that disclosing this information is necessary. I know many people who were academic superstars who are also the worst managers I have ever met. They have spent so much time studying and getting those excellent academic marks that they have forgotten or don't possess one of the basic skills of managing, the ability to work with people. I feel a broader approach should be used when considering a candidate for management. Disclosing grades would place a greater weight on grades than is necessary in some cases.

    • Paul

    Too much importance is already attached to grades. An abundance of evidence exists, both scientific and empirical (try a Google search), pointing out the discrepancies between the way we are evaluated at school and the way the real world evaluates us. Stories will always abound of those who "didn't make the grade" but nevertheless experienced great success in all aspects of life. Our world is competitive enough as it is; collaboration is what is needed today.

    • Vivekanand Iyer
    • Executive Business Development, C-SAM India (P) Ltd

    Disclosure of grades to recruiters and others is indeed a good practice. First, it ensures that students know there is pressure on them to perform all the time. This is more like a work situation when there is constant pressure on you to deliver. Second, students will know that the recruiter is going to look at all their grades. This is also similar to a performance appraisal in an organization.

    The point that there will be competitive behavior injurious to the learning process in the classroom is not entirely correct, since employees are under pressure in an organization at all times, too.

    This will be a lesson to the students. It will not place too much emphasis on one dimension of behavior, since recruiters will look at grades as one among many aspects of a student. All in all, it's a good idea both for organizations and students.

    • Jim Parker
    • Partner, Johnson, Rial & Parker, P.C.

    I find that grade inflation is so pervasive and extreme that knowing grades or class standing is of little value. I still want that information in case it shows something worthy of further inquiry, but otherwise it is useless.

    • Nate Boaz
    • Second-year student, Harvard Business School

    Management education teaches future managers to provide clear, constructive feedback to their subordinates. The fallacy of grade disclosure is that the grades themselves supply this transparent measure. At HBS, 75 percent of all grades are an amorphous "2" (on a scale of 1 to 3), denoting an average performance compared to one's peers. Half of the input to these grades is professors' highly subjective measure of class participation. Releasing these noisy marks to recruiters will do little to improve the clarity and constructiveness of the feedback that professors are providing their students. The managers of management education should practice what they preach.

    • Anonymous

    A move towards grade disclosure fails the students of business schools in a number of ways. First, it is disingenuous to argue that it leaves the matter to the individual. Any student choosing to not disclose grades to potential employers will have to disprove the assumption that he or she has something to hide. Second, it is a fallacy to believe that it rewards outstanding performance in a particular area, as employers' recruiting processes afford most people ample opportunity to demonstrate their strengths. Indeed, it is in the employers' best interest to have reliable metrics for strength in key areas, since they have a vested interest in hiring the right candidates.

    The third—and most damning—critique of grade disclosure is that grades are only valuable if they are an accurate reflection of an individual's abilities. Sadly, the grading system at HBS (and probably many other business schools) is no longer suited to test this, and professors have no incentive to ensure that grades are an accurate reflection of ability. Any move to grade disclosure needs to be accompanied by greater investment in individual assessment and accountability on the part of the professors.

    • Anonymous

    Just because someone does well in the classroom environment does not mean those skills will translate to the work environment, especially when difficult, non-routine tasks and decisions are at hand.

    In my opinion, grade disclosure may disadvantage someone who may be academically weak but performance strong. Education is a gateway, not a runway to performance. Grade disclosure will not add any more transparency to the educational process, but perhaps management will lose some very good people because they do not appear in the top portion of their graduating class.

    • Anonymous

    The way the HBS administration has gone about changing its grade disclosure policy has been highly upsetting to me and many of my friends from the Class of 2005. In fact, I have not spoken to a single classmate who thought it was a good idea. There are several reasons for disappointment:

    1) The school did not bother to either ask its alums before the change (contrary to the statement it published), nor did it even inform them after the fact. I receive a lot of communications from the school now, including the Working Knowledge newsletter and donation solicitations. I heard about the change in the grade disclosure policy from a recruiting coordinator at my firm.

    2) "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." HBS is an amazing institution and the level of collaboration among students has been a major contributing factor. I also felt that my classmates were well prepared and very professional.

    3) The only change in behavior this policy is likely to produce is increased emphasis on grades in the first year. In fact, most students were already very focused on academics in the first semester and usually the first year. A small group (maybe 5 percent) might become more focused whereas before they were more concerned about other aspects of their HBS experience, such as job exploration, starting a business, preparing the annual HBS show, or simply kicking back after a couple of years in investment banking.

    4) Grades will become more concentrated. At present there is a large group of students that receives at least one 1 or 3 (on a 1-2-3); both grades will now become more concentrated.

    5) Due to an increase in the concentration of 3s, a small group of students will become less marketable to on-campus recruiters. It probably will not add to either their enjoyment of HBS or their self-esteem. Given the large number of foreign students and candidates with non-business backgrounds, it seems rather unfortunate.

    6) Grade disclosure will have no impact on the behavior of second-year students, since on-campus recruiting is finished before fall grades come out and off-campus recruiters are unlikely to care about grades at all.

    The unilateral action of the HBS administration is particularly upsetting. The main sentiment I have heard from members of the class of 2005 is "Thank God we've graduated."

    By the way, I received First- and Second-Year honors and I don't think it had any impact on my career opportunities while at HBS. I can't imagine how grade disclosure is going to be helpful to anyone else, either!

    • Michael Robbins
    • Executive Trainer, Executive IQ Company

    We need schools to lead the way to valid indicators of executive performance. Making grades optionally available is not leadership. The link between past academic performance and present executive performance is measurable. Before revealing grades, academics should reveal the utility of grades!

    • David Burck
    • Director of Business Development, Custom Desk and Hardwood Visuals

    Without touching on all the myriad reasons for not reporting or allowing grade disclosure, I would think the ultimate danger lies in devaluing the institution by allowing and encouraging a measure by the lowest common denominator. I assume that grades and grade point averages are an imperfect ruler for the value (personal) and future value (external) of a Harvard MBA. I think disclosure will encourage just the sort of mismatched benchmarking that Professor Robert Kaplan rightly decries when executives mistake efficiency—divorced from context—as the primary measure for value.

    • Hemjit Balakrishnan
    • Senior Vice President, Strategy & HR, Health Prime International

    In our quest to create ideal corporate citizens, the societal aspects come to the fore in any institutionalized practice. Any education system, be it primary or management education, attempting to create a culture of openness and trust should place transparency at the core of all growth. Transparency in any kind of system ultimately leads to transparency in human relationships. Disclosure has its own ramifications in almost all spheres of interaction, be they social or at the workplace. At the same time, disclosure can be viewed as leading to self-development. Self-development is itself a self-disclosure and implies taking a journey into the boundary-less territory of our consciousness. Therefore, the quality of the educational process can act as a concern for the debate over grade disclosure from the notion of creating and maintaining an egalitarian society, and self-development viewed as a process in which we acquire demonstrable knowledge, skills, and qualities to be successful in life.

    • Anonymous

    I would vote against disclosing grades. It would yield to unnecessary roughness in the classroom and negatively affect learning environments. Good candidates may even prefer to go to another school for this reason alone.

    • Rob
    • Analyst

    It's hard to identify what exactly firms would gain from the added educational disclosure. The current grading system in many schools, where several data points become one rolled-up number, is pretty flawed (A, B, C or 1, 2, 3). Much like the DuPont formula takes return on equity and breaks it down into meaningful parts, firms would need to see a grading system that conveys meaningful information. Approaching grading from the standpoint of a performance evaluation, managers rarely receive a simple A, B, or C evaluation. They receive multiple small evaluations, encompassing many different aspects of their job. In a 360-degree evaluation, the manager receives even more small evaluations. Without a clear benefit to the hiring firm, there is not much reason to encourage grade disclosure and create a meaningless point of competition.

    Additionally, grades are a poor measure of overall academic ability. Variables such as academic load, family issues, concurrent employment, and quality of the instruction cannot be measured in a simple GPA system. A student receiving average grades in a full term while a child has pneumonia or a spouse is undergoing chemotherapy does not receive extra points for successfully managing a class and a family catastrophe. In fact, this student may be penalized for showing excellent management skills.

    Probably the best way to handle grades is much like a performance evaluation, with many little pieces, possibly 360-degree evaluations from the entire class. Fixing the grading system to reflect what happens in the business world will give firms something much more useful. At that point, the discussion of whether or not to disclose grades will be beneficial. Until then, why waste effort on a meaningless point of measure? Leave grades undisclosed.

    • Sandi Edgar

    The GPA "rat race" of peers should not taint the learning and hiring process. The mere accomplishment of obtaining an MBA serves as a successful recruiting tool; disclosing the grades required to get there is not necessary. Yes, grades may help companies choose between two identical candidates, but is a mere number a true evaluation of character?

    • Paul K.

    Those who have earned a good grade have certainly earned the right to use it as a tool in their effort to obtain the best job possible. Students with less than stellar performances should not be handed a crutch at the expense of those who performed well. Let students present themselves in the most advantageous way they can. For some it will be in terms of grades; for others it could be extracurricular accomplishments, personality, and so on.

    • Ann Sathasivam
    • Training Project Officer DBUS program, The Salvation Army Australia (Southern Territory)

    Here in Australia, tertiary institutions issue an academic transcript of results, but the reality is that academic results really do not give a true indication of how a person performs on the job.

    I've always felt that leadership and the way we conduct ourselves in our job is best summed up by the simple phrase "What you are doing is speaking so loudly I can't hear what you are saying." It's a slight variation on the cliché "Actions speak louder than words."

    The essential truth in any organization is that knowledge, unless applied, is of negligible value. The intrinsic value of knowledge to the owner will always be there, but unless the power of knowledge is released in constructive ways on the job and is fully utilized and celebrated, it will not benefit the business or the wider community.

    Academic ability is but one indicator of a person's worth to any organization, one dimension to be considered. More damage can be done if the individual has poor interpersonal skills, poor communication skills, low technical skills, an attitude averse to learning, and a heart that lacks compassion and understanding.

    • Anonymous

    I think having students or the school reveal grades to anyone, presumably potential employers, contradicts the basic fact that school is a place of learning, experimentation, and honing one's skills even at the risk of failure. All HBS graduates know there are ways to "hype up" grades should that become a goal. But it is detrimental to real learning and detrimental to learning how to operate as a team.

    Furthermore, good grades do not necessarily reflect one's potential job performance. There are many factors that make up success in business, not the least of which is timing and luck. Finally, I think this does nothing to teach "transparency" to anyone and just seems to cave in to spurious demands from executive recruiters. A bad idea.

    • RW
    • Consultant in insurance

    Yes, more transparency should extend to education for management. Students need to have high marks in school to prove they are critical thinkers. Critical thinking plays a significant role in management when it comes to making decisions.

    • Rakesh Seth
    • Vice President - HR, Everest Industries Ltd.

    What we are talking about is a complete change in thinking and an acceptance of this recruiter-driven phenomenon. But whoever is admitted has already passed through certain filters, such as the GMAT and a personal interview. The MBA candidate already operates at a certain intelligence level that is not below average. At the MBA level there should not be any grading system. The differentiation in the students can be felt when you put them in an interview room.

    • Anonymous

    In the real business world, employees are also competing for "grades" from their superiors and those employees who understand how to improve these "grades" do well or better than others, not necessarily because they perform better but because they know how to present themselves. Does HBS want this? No, I do not think so.

    The learning experience should be as important as the behavior of students towards peers, ethical decision making, and accomplishing or surpassing the desired educational goals.

    HBS could teach this combination of skills and behaviors to students and then grade them accordingly. In my personal opinion, this could be a paramount learning for future leaders in for-profit and in nonprofit organizations.

    • Anonymous

    The transparency of performance of the students in the business school should be better judged by the business schools' rating and academic standing. Individual student scores, whether given voluntarily by the student or administration, would get skewed results in terms of presumed high capability of performance on the job based on a score.

    Most business schools already do not encourage openness and trust among classmates because each of them look like competitors in the race for a well paid job. In some schools we still see students behaving like kids in terms of reluctance in academic sharing and caring.

    I would strongly vote against individual students giving their score.

    • John Inman, Ed.M., PHR
    • OD and Training Manager, Kah-Nee-Ta High Desert Resort and Casino

    If I were to disclose my undergraduate grades, they would do me no favors and do not reflect my drive and passion. Now if you were to ask for my master's transcript, I would gladly share it. I am very proud of the work I did and still do based on that work.

    I would advocate that masters and doctoral work and grades be disclosed. After all, this is when we focus our passion and this work should reflect our abilities in a chosen field. The rigor of the program and the style of instruction may create a non-level playing field, but it is during the interview process that a candidate with a graduate degree should be able to demonstrate his or her competence and the competence of the program attended.

    • Anshu Vats
    • Industry executive, EDS

    It seems the question that should be asked is: Why are recruiters asking for grades? What has eroded their confidence in the degrees bestowed by management schools to the point where they are asking for specific grades?

    Management as a curriculum has been questioned in the past by numerous thinkers including the late Peter Drucker and Henry Mintzberg. They expressed doubts about what exactly business schools arm their students with.

    Mintzberg asserts in his book Managers Not MBAs that conventional MBA classrooms overemphasize the science of management while ignoring its art and denigrating its craft, leaving a distorted impression of its practice. In his view, business education is for the wrong people at the wrong time, and it teaches the wrong stuff.

    So by asking for grades from the students, is it that the recruiters are seeking some unit of measurement that will provide them with a better understanding of the B-school student's value? Is the vehement opposition by the student body to revealing their grades an effort to hide incompetence? If revealing the students' grades leads to an increasingly competitive classroom, great! Welcome to the meritocracy. This will only prepare them for real-world experience, which is the one thing Mintzberg says MBAs lack.