Porter’s five WHATs?

What, exactly, does Warwick Business School have against Michael Porter?

The guy who kicked off management consultancy is a core part of approximately 4,999 of the world’s 5,000 MBA schools. Except, it seems, Warwick’s.

There has been NO SESSION about Michael Porter; his five forces have been mentioned in passing maybe twice. Yet every single lecture, there’s at least one comment about him and his work – especially as it relates to us.

“You MBA students can doubtless talk about Porter’s Five Forces until the cows come home…”

“Now, remind me what Porter’s Five Forces are?”

“Obviously you’ll have covered Porter’s Five Forces in depth during the first term…”

We haven’t ‘done’ Porter AT ALL. I’m not sure we need to – any more than elementary school kids need to read Euclid – since the principles are now so embedded in business strategy the actual originator has perhaps become obsolete – but damnit, if they think we should study Michael Porter, they should bloody well say so. Porter’s not even on the reading list. Nor is his most famous work in the bookshop.

Here’s my theory: this is the one area of joined-up education where the programme directors don’t talk to each other. They’re all taking it for granted. All the lecturers think every other lecturer is overdosing on Michael Porter, and don’t bother putting him in their own lectures.

The net result: not a single lecturer is teaching Michael Porter, and we know him by reputation alone. Unless – and this is a long shot given the workload – we like, y’know, actually read his book on our own initiative or something. Dear me.

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