MBAs Might Make Better CEOs

By Catherine Groux
Posted December 31, 2012 03:00 PM

CEOs with MBA degrees may be more successful leaders.
CEOs with MBA degrees may be more successful leaders.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in order to become a top executive, like a chief executive officer (CEO), individuals must typically earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA). However, there are professionals who work their way into CEO positions without going to business school. While this is certainly possible, research suggests that CEOs who earn MBAs tend to make better leaders than those who do not earn master's degrees.

Recently, Chief Executive magazine and Applied Finance Group created a list of the best and worst CEOs from S&P 500 companies based on how much money their businesses make. Bloomberg Businessweek analyzed this list and discovered that while roughly 40% of all S&P 500 CEOs have MBAs, about half of the top 10 CEOs on Chief Executive's list have earned an MBA. Of those CEOs listed in the bottom 10, only two earned an MBA.

William A. Sahlman, a professor at Harvard Business School, said this analysis of Chief Executive's list might show that MBAs make better CEOs.

"We hope they do better with an MBA," he told Businessweek. "The fact that there is a disproportionate number of CEOs with an MBA at the top of the list compared to the bottom of the list is suggestive that they do, but it’s only suggestive."

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