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    Insight Into Liberal Arts Education in Business Schools Essay

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    Liberal arts is best defined as an the collegiate education comprising of knowledge in the fields of arts, natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities (Hall, 1968). Numerous scholars and researchers have reviewed the effects this education has on the outcome of business students majoring in all fields of study trot accounting, economics, marketing, to management and have Dunn a surprisingly common rationale: liberal arts has a positive inapt on the education of business students in all fields. The debate lies, however, in the implementation of the liberal art education as it relates to the fields of business.

    There have been studies that suggest that the best form of implementation is to integrate liberal arts education directly into the course material while other scholars and researchers have argued that a more separated approach should be taken in order to achieve the most beneficial result. Despite the amount of research conducted, however, there is seemingly no end to the flow of research conducted. This literature review will examine the historical background with regards to the topic to hopefully shed light into the debate.

    As the historical view Of the debate wows, a great deal of change has occurred in the last 75 years as to the focus of education in business schools across the nation. Whether it be the inflow Of Gig’s from World War II or the literary influences of New York Times Bestselling books, education and the implementation and removal of the liberal arts structure has undergone significant changes. This literary review will also look into the debate of whether to bridge practical and liberal arts courses or to replace the courses all together with courses designed to teach both ideas mutually.

    Another debate will be discussed guarding the amount to which theories, whether managerial, behavioral, or organizational theories should be or need to be discussed in light of the liberal arts integration. We Will examine the current trends Of liberal arts integration into the field of business taught in higher education as well as point out predictions as to how the future looks for the research Of liberal arts integration. Finally, we will conclude by summarizing the findings of this literature review and point out areas for further research as well as shed light on the solutions for conducting research in the future.

    A Historical View A historical view of the debate between a liberal arts view and a practicality based education points out an uprising in the argument during the asses as Gig’s were found to be flooding college classrooms in an attempt to fulfill their GIG Bill (Performable, 1993). Gig’s were not interested in a theoretical based view of business education, as they were more interested in landing entry-level jobs were practicality was the focus, This push of colleges to adopt the practicality based education model led the Ford Foundation to conduct a study looking into the effectiveness of this change (Clansman, Saddle, & Heckler, 1998).

    In the asses, the Ford Foundation, after much research and deliberation, concluded that a return to a greater liberal arts focus was needed (1998). Although the research concluded that the education programs in the field of business needed a greater focus on the liberal arts, professors, institutions, and students alike tended to be comfortable with the practical education that had slowly been adopted. While there was a strong correlation bet’,even the benefited success of students and a strong liberal arts education, colleges were being flooded With students and professors were settling into the comfort Of an easier curriculum (Jones, 1986).

    The thoughts and writings of scholars and theorists on the future, such as Midriffs writing (1987) discussing the corporate environment and rethinking the focus and direction of the environment of the times or Insanity’s book (1982) discussing individualism’s effects on the future of global development, changed the perspective of educators worldwide. After these writings, the educational field began to see a need to review the effectiveness of their liberal arts programs. This was coupled with an increasing concern into the communication ND critical thinking skills of business graduates (Porter & Mimicking, 1988).

    This resurgence, since the release tot the Ford Foundation in the sass’s study, in into the topic of liberal arts was on the rise, In 1989, Stark and Loather released a study on the liberal arts in the field of business and showed that there was a high level of graduates who were not able to comprehend information on a critical level, make ethical decisions when facing an issue, or relate to others both on a cultural and emotional level. Pacing grooving concern over the outcome of business students in higher education, universities began to once again view the Iberia arts as a benefit in their programs.

    As the realization of the benefits of a liberal arts focused education grew, consequently so did the debate as to how the merging the two philosophies. The Great Debate Liberal arts education, with relation to the business field, has brought about much attention in the last thirty years. The scope Of the liberal arts field With relation to the business environment, while discussed in length for over a century, has just recently established itself as a larger debate than otherwise thought.

    The theory behind the liberal arts philosophy is the betterment of ones self wrought the ability to critically think and reason with logic so that there can be a greater connection into social participation (Cohen, 2009). The purpose of using this theory and applying it to the field of business education is to provide students with the ability to use the business knowledge they possess and conform it to the situations that they may face in the present (King and Baxter- Magnolia, 1991).

    Pinker (2009) states that the growth tot liberal arts mentality in a person helps to develop the “intellectual scaffolding’ that holds them to deal with the challenges presented to them in everyday situations. The ultimate goal in joining the personal development concept with the role that person plays in a business role is that the business leader will be better equipped to participate in the cultural and intellectual arenas found the the practice of business (Bogart, 2010).

    The form that Wishful (2007) presents this idea is that the study of liberal arts is a mere process, and through that process an individual reaches past their present mental state and expands their understanding of society. While this thought and rationale is hard to question, and in fact is the goal for attainment wrought many educational models, the real debate lies in the methods that the liberal arts mindset is reached. Cohen (2009) states that the gap that lies between the self-betterment Of a student and the professional growth is where the true debate lies.

    Strasbourg (2010) states that the problem with this rationale is the focus on self-improvement during a period in time where the main struggle of a person lies in positioning themselves in the economic times we face. Whether professional or self. Betterment skills should be taught in a vocation such as business is where the crux of the argument lies. In Stevens article entitled Management as a Liberal Art (1991), the author discusses the growing trend of businesses taking a greater interest in liberal arts students.

    Wall Street during the sass’s is used as an point in the argument to make the point that liberal arts students are being hired due to their ability to reason, rationalize, and critically think to a higher level than students who were trained under the roof of practical education, Stevens, however, goes on to state that institutions are focused on the wrong goal; rather than focusing on whether an institution of higher learning should adopt a liberal arts program or a rationality based education, the focus should be on how to integrate these two philosophies into one cohesive unit of learning& The theory of liberal arts does not just promise to provide self-betterment, but to also provide the skills necessary to analytically think and reason. In Pinkness article (2009), he states that the liberal arts enable students to rationally questions the validity of what they are hearing and determine the truth behinds remarks. The ability to analyze and critically think remains to be the greatest support for the liberal arts argument.

    Kelly, Dave, and High (1999) state in heir research that the ability of one to alter their position on a certain view or belief lies in that person’s ability to critically reason and analyze the alternative in comparison of previously held belief. Where the argument hits a intellectual speed bump is in the ability for students and professors to grasp the importance of the liberal arts education in light of the age in which we exist. Strasbourg (2010) states that the assumption that the liberal arts education enables students to suddenly analyze and critically think is given to much credit. In Willow’s study (2004) of generational groups and heir abilities to learn and process information, Wilson finds that this generation is strongly tied with the status quo and that breaking someone from the norm takes a greater force than in previous generations.

    The argument is expanded by looking at the dilemma that educators face when teaching a strict liberal arts curriculum, In Situation’5 study (1987) of accounting education in relation to the field of law, he draws the conclusion that unlike law schools, many universities prefer a definitive answer to address questions in the classroom. Rather than exposing the student to an array of possible answers hat remain Nan-definitive, educators would rather choose to pose questions that draw one definitive answer. Subsonic also draws a comparison to accounting courses in which students are taught the rules and application of formulas and terms but are kept from the over-arching explanation of the rationale behind the formulas and rules. Subsonic continues on to State that effective learning comes not from one teaching style over another, but rather the explanation and discovery Of the topic in an attempt to bridge the gap bet’,even the two (1987).

    Bridge or Replace The fundamental issue with the liberal arts view of education is the fact that hose who support it solely view education to be the superior reasoning behind education whereas the proponents of a practical education view job preparation as the sole purpose of higher education (angular 2010). Those who solely support the implementation of a liberal arts focus will admit that there is some degree of faith as to the fact that a liberal arts education provides useful job related skills (Bogart, 201 0), Bogart suggests that a practical integration of the liberal arts field rests in the proper implementation tot business related skills into the context f coursework while spinning the education under a liberal arts context (201 0), A strong focus on liberal art integration into the business education is found in research done using the study of accounting.

    Due to its high level of skill-based knowledge and its seemingly little need for a strong liberal arts background, it has been a heavily tested subject in the debate between the two sides. Cackling (2005) proposes that due to the high level of skill based knowledge the the accounting field requires, it may make a ideal subject for the relevance of liberal art integration. The rationale behind this logic is the lack of interpersonal skills hat the accounting field requires, thus establishing an environment oeuvre the skill-development side of liberal arts is truly tested. The idea Of bridging the gap between a practicality based education system and a liberal arts style of teaching is not an idea that is new in the field of education. A great deal Of discussion has revolved around this topic even before the 190њs.

    As stated in a 2003 article by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, a large accreditation organization for higher learning institutions, the bono forms of education should not be looked at differently as Hough they are two distinct functions not able to be merged. According to Reed’s book, he focuses on the statement made by Charles Eliot, former Harvard president, in 1890 during a speech to the New York City Chamber of Commerce discussing businesses in the city and an education system designed to support business growth, where in summary Eliot states that a liberal education provides business leaders the ability to make quick observations, realize the importance tot small details in a large amount of unimportant information, and the detail ascertainable by having such an education (1923).

    While there is great support for the liberal arts program in Elite’s statements, Reed goes on to support the idea that liberal arts education gives professionals the ability to reason along with the knowledge of the profession itself. One recent view as to the bridging of liberal arts and practice based courses is the blending of courses throughout the entire tenure of a students coursework in a collegiate level. Book and Tested (2000) support this rationale by stating that the problem educational systems face in blending the liberal arts benefits of courses found in humanities and philosophy with the benefits associated with a racial based courses such as accounting and management is the separation Of these courses in a students coursework.

    Many students are required to take pre-requisites that are primarily focused on the liberal arts, While the practical based classes are saved for their final years of education. Book and Tested argue that there is an usurpation made, lying at the foot of the issue at hand, that the first two years of higher education is to be spent focusing on liberal arts while the last two years are to be spent on applying the liberal art concepts to their practical based courses (2000). Providing More than Theories The idea of the replacement of the liberal arts in a business environment has been strongly argued against in the education and business environments.

    Mason states that the most common deficiencies found in business management education are the non-existence of a real-world perspective in light of the course material, the ability to effectively communicate, the ability to work in a team environment, and the necessary skills to make an effective leader (1992). Chew and McGinnis-Bowers suggested that there be a revitalization to the courses and business programs found in higher education institutions (1996). They suggest hat a strategic management course be implemented in order to assess the students ability to excel in each of the areas in which Mason (1992) states are lacking in students coming out of the business courses of higher learning institutions. Applicable to the learning processes Of higher education students are the learning styles of K-12 grades (Hatfield, 1932).

    Hatfield research concluded that the learning ability Of any students was based on the ability to learn information and then use that information in a real-world situation. Belt (1965) made great contributions to the analysis Of learning and the role Of liberal arts in the education system. Belt argued that there were five essential steps to obtaining knowledge, exploring, describing, explaining, reasoning, inventing, and developing. Belt continues on by stating in his book that the intertwining liberal arts into the learning process helps to advance the structure of learning by giving the student the ability to reason, invent, and develop their own ideas and concepts without being bound to the norms of others.

    Hartsfield continued on in his research to state that the application of liberal arts should remain as a foundation tot education essential tort “the development tot intellectual skills, value and belief systems, an attitude of public service, and an overall perspective of the knowledge system” (1992). These intellectual skills and value systems are imperative to a proper understanding of business, an understanding that, Shoal argues needs to be taught more in business (2005)_ Shoal brings a trending argument to the table, that business students today are lacking the ability to decipher differences in making a profit and ethically running a business.

    Shoal goes on to describe the current business student as someone who merely goes about their repression applying theories that they have learned only to watch the practical use of theories alone to be a detriment to their job performance and ultimately the company, in Which Shoal brings up the destruction Of Enron (2005). According to Clansman, Saddle, and Hecklers insight into business schools, they argue that there has been a revolutionary change in the educational format of business schools, from teaching the ability to function as an ever-changing environment into one that is focused on the science of business relationships (1998). This was not the first time this argument was suggested, however.

    In 930, Fiske stated that there was a fundamental issue with how students were being taught. Fiske derided that there was too much emphasis on attempting to place each of the functions of business education to a specific scientific method rather than allowing the students to analyze, experience, and rationalize the problems themselves and derive a solution outside the confines of science (1930). Clansman, Saddle. And Heckler go on to conclude that the format of business education tools closely with that of a social science rather than a ever- changing environment navigated by logic, reasoning, and analysis (1 998), Boyd (1987) proposed this general idea CNN. ‘ere arrears prior.

    Boyd suggested that the two portions of an undergraduate program, the preliminary coursework and that of the major, should be merged into one collective educational experience. Rather than moving through a choppy progression of topics, the coursework should progress through a increasing breadth of coverage. Boyd does understand that there is a significant difference between the liberal arts approach to topics discussed in business and the practical knowledge of business, and that this gap may never be fully bridged. Boyd suggests, however, hat while this attempt at bridging may resolve some educational issues, the nature Of the two philosophies are so different that full bridging is near impractical to expect (1987).

    Suggestions into a integrative business curriculum came in the beginning Of the asses with Bloom’s proposed model for the undergraduate business curriculum (1992). Bloom proposed business curriculum suggests that students be exposed to individualism, political involvement and theory, economic theory and how it relates to sociology, the influence of technology in the business sector, and international involvement of business (1992). At the end of the students educational venture through a higher education institution, Bloom suggests that there be a thesis in which the senior takes all the culmination of knowledge and applies this to a specific topic.

    While this model seems to completely integrate the liberal arts background with the business application, much criticism come as to the lack tot history courses and the failure to include other basic management courses. The current trend of liberal arts in business programs Research conducted in the last 10 years in the area of liberal arts education has been on the rise. A primary focus of research has been conducted not only on the teaching of liberal arts theories in the business courses, but also the effect that the educators experience has on the learning of the students. While past research has made the somewhat obvious connection between the teaching styles of educators and the information gained from students, recent studies have taken this research to the next level by looking into the qualification Of educators.

    A study done by Catcall, Bradbury, Famish, and Simpler in 2004 found that there was a significant decline in the number Of liberal arts minded referrers teaching business courses. Their study found that only of the faculty in higher institutions were from an academic background (2004). Researchers such as Catcall, Bradbury, Famish, and Simpler find that academic professors bring a higher concentration of liberal arts theories and foundations into their coursework whereas professional-based professors bring a higher concentration of experience and hands-on knowledge. With the higher concentration of practical knowledge based professors in the courses today, there is a slight decline tot integration of the liberal arts.

    Nine (2011) concludes hat this decline in the number of academically experienced professors is due in part to the current weak financial situation that many colleges are taking. Due to the higher cost associated with academically-experienced professors and the balance of less-qualified, experienced based professors, institutions of higher learning are beginning to make the switch (2011), Miles, Hazarding, and Manila reported that in the 2003 edits to the accreditation standards, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business lowered their standards regarding the required percentage of academically qualified faculty to professionally qualified faculty.

    Nine (2011) attempts to explain this by stating that organizations and businesses had a higher focus on the number of students coming out of higher learning institutions rather than the quality faculty, the knowledge base of the graduates, or the applicable skills they possessed. Another contingency that current research has looked at to explain the trend of higher learning institutions is the effect Of the economic environment. In such a tough economy as the one we face today, students are looking for more affordable forms Of education including that Of online education. Institutions are offering these programs as a source of savings on both the student and institutional standpoint, leaving a smaller amount to be spent on the funding of faculty to teach these programs (Nine, 2011).

    Slaughter and Rhodes (2004) point out that there is a strong effect on the capitalistic forces that effect education programs today. Research done by Elian et al. In 2002 discusses the strong effect that online programs have on the moment to incorporate a liberal arts mentality, Through changes made in the standards of the CABS, a completely efferent make up tot skills is being presented by students completing online education. The lack of academic faculty and the emergence of a professional faculty makeup in conjunction with a self-taught philosophy of online course work has created a great deficiency in the application of liberal arts (2011).

    Conclusion The purpose of business education is to train individuals to deal with the environmental factors that the business environment presents. While there has been a great deal of research done in the last half-century that points to the effectiveness of a liberal arts deduction and a the effectiveness of a practicality eased education being taught in curriculums throughout business schools, there is a lot more research to be done in this field (Curran, 2007). Curran (2007) points out that the effects Of the teachings in business schools are just now being realized due to the current succession of management. With this analysis, it proves that there is a great deal of research left to do with relation to the liberal arts teaching in a school of business.

    By researching and looking at the trends of business education over the last century, researchers are able to comprehend the effects that curriculum changes an have on the decisions business graduates in the organizations they help run. While the original intent of a business education was to provide professional training to enable students to effectively run businesses, history and research has proven that academic institutions are willing adapt to economic markets and alter their curriculum to meet these market demands. There has been significant research done with regards to the effectiveness of liberal arts education in the field of business as well as the need for a practicality based education and the merging of these two ideas.

    There hasn’t, however, been adequate suggestions on how to properly go about merging the liberal arts and the practicality of the business environment effectively While there has been the suggestions offered up by Boyd (1987), there has not been any research looking at the effectiveness of certain programs and types of integration to further close the debate. Future research should also look into the qualifications and skills sets that employers are looking for when fulfilling jobs. In conjunction to this research, the studies should also look into the skill sets that current students are graduating tit in order to compare and find out what areas of a business education are lacking.

    Only then can we assess the needs Of organizations and the educational system requirements to fulfill those needs through a proper mix of practical based and liberal arts based education. Another weakness of the research conducted was the lack of research to find outside or other internal influences that could be affecting the education of graduates other than the curriculum. Research addressing the social influence that students face with regards to obtaining a liberal arts mindset would be extremely beneficial, Questions such as: What social or socio-economic influences are students exposed to that affect their ability to process information and learning under a liberal arts mentality?

    The problems with the research already conducted suggesting a single core curriculum that merges the liberal arts philosophies with the practicality based education is the lack of universities to adopt such curriculums. Research conducted by Stark and Loather in 1989 revealed that while there was agreement as to the necessity for an integrated curriculum, little to no higher learning institutions were actually adopting such trainees, Yet another area of suggested research is to look into the connection between expectations of students with the education received under an integrated liberal arts program, a strict liberal arts program, and a strict practicality based program.

    These three categories of graduates should be tested shortly after graduation, in the middle of their careers, and toward the end of their careers. Due to the fact that education is primarily composed off series Of expectations, this study would be completely useful as to the insight Of students expectations of their education prior to the coursework in comparison With how they felt their coursework adequately prepared them for eh business environment during different stages in their careers (Bogart, 2010, peg. 413). In summary, while extensive research has been conducted on the topic of liberal arts education in the realm of the business concentration, little change has been made to the implementation of such curriculums.

    For this reason, research has continued to focus on solutions to this problem without much avail. Longstanding the barriers that a liberal arts supporters face may help to provide a more effective way to actual implementation, While there is strong position to the liberal arts role in business, better research done to look into the proper implementation of liberal arts into business school may help to decrease this tension. With a greater number tot studies showing this trend, the literature landscape on this topic is bound to drastically change over the short course of history. References Belt, M. (1965). Education as a discipline; a study of the role of models in thinking, Boston: Allan and Bacon, Boyd, Charles, (1987).

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