Thursday, September 07, 2006

The McDonald's School of Business

Stuart Buck discusses what hamburger joints can teach that schools can't:

...if there exists any knowledge that leads to economic growth, the overwhelming majority of it is captured in businesses and other institutions, and cannot be taught in schools. I'm not talking just about "job training," i.e., formal training classes that might last a day or a week at the beginning of one's employment (or formal "continuing education" classes in various professions). Instead, I'm talking about all of the informal knowledge that relates to "how we do things here at ____."


...there's no real reason to think that formal education is going to magically produce increased business activity -- i.e., economic growth -- here or in Third World countries. You could take the entire population of a Third World country and send them to 12 years of school to learn all about social studies and literature and political science. At the end, they wouldn't be any closer to a modern economy than they are now. What would be far more helpful is if the necessary institutions -- i.e., the many different kinds of businesses -- existed in that country, so that people could gain the knowledge that is actually relevant to economic growth.

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