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Where business and government meets

By Peter Walker for CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Once, business was business and government was government. Leaders passed laws and companies made money within those laws.

These days, however, the lines are blurring and people with business qualifications are found increasingly within the top levels of government -- most notably, President George W. Bush, the first incumbent of the office to hold an MBA.

A study last year found that Bush's then-cabinet contained two other MBAs, less than the six law graduates but an interesting phenomenon nonetheless.

Elsewhere, in particular with the advent of economic globalization, there are ever more areas of public policy in which governments and companies must collaborate for mutual benefit, for example the issue of climate change.

The time thus seems ripe for a new tie-up between two of the leaders in their respective fields of business education and public policy education -- Harvard Business School (where Bush took his MBA) and the same university's Kennedy School of Government.

Earlier this month, they announced the creation of two new joint postgraduate degrees which share the resources and expertise of both schools.

Students will be able to choose from a Master in Business Administration/Master in Public Policy (MBA/MPP) or a Master in Business Administration/Master in Public Administration-International Development (MBA/MPA-ID). To take either degree, students must pass the rigorous admissions procedures of both schools.

The aim is to produce people able to work where government and business meet, for example the environment, health care or economic development.

"Graduates of this new program will be able to address some of the world's most pressing issues -- issues that call for collaboration between the public and private sectors and that require leaders who can effectively operate in both areas," said the Kennedy School's Dean David T. Ellwood.

"It will provide graduates with the skills and knowledge necessary for them to fulfil key leadership roles throughout the world."

Tough program

Students -- who begin arriving late next year -- will study for three years, the first two a compulsory mix of core curricula from the two schools, followed by a final year in which they take electives along with a series of specially-designed joint courses.

"From tax policies and trade agreements to a wide range of laws and regulations, the interaction between business and government for the greater good of society has never been more important," said the business school's Dean Jay O. Light.

"As they embark on careers that will have a significant impact on corporate policy and public affairs, students in this new program will benefit from the strong practical focus that is the hallmark of both schools."

If the formal academic program were not enough, students must also complete two separate summer internships. Between the first and second years, they will work in a public service or policy-based position and between the second and third years, they will obtain positions in a private sector or non-profit organization.

According to Robert Stavins, professor of business and government at the Kennedy School, who co-chaired the group which devised the course, there is "no academic program in the world that can match the theoretical, analytical, and practical elements offered".

"In a truly integrated joint degree program such as this, students will be able to synthesize the lessons they learn in each school to become professionals skilled at devising innovative approaches to a broad range of complex challenges in society," he added.

"There is also a wealth of expanded opportunities for faculty collaboration in research in this arena."


story.bush.jpg

The first MBA president: George W. Bush.

FACT BOX

FT MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Columbia, U.S.
3. Harvard, U.S.
4. Stanford GSB, U.S.
5. London Business School, UK
6. Chicago GSB, U.S.
7. Insead, France/Singapore
8. Stern, NYU, U.S.
9. Tuck, Dartmouth, U.S.
10. Yale, U.S.
Source: Financial Times 2007

FACT BOX

MBA BASICS

The classic MBA is a two-year full-time program. Accelerated and distance learning MBAs are increasingly popular.

A typical MBA student has several years' work experience and is in their late 20s.

Those who take an Executive MBA, or EMBA, tend to be older, more senior managers.

Courses are expensive, but the rewards are high -- some new MBAs now get a $100,000 basic salary, according to a survey.

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