Study by the NBEA Proves that CEO’s Who Have an MBA Show No Greater Ability to Increase Sales or Profits Compared to CEO’s Who Do Not Have an MBA (N.B.E.R March 2022)

Study by the National Bureau of Economic Research proves that CEO’s who have an MBA show no greater ability to increase sales or profits in response to exporting opportunities compared to CEO’s who do not have an MBA. CEO’s without an MBA share profits with their workers, whereas CEO’s with an MBA do not.

“This paper provides evidence from the US and Denmark that managers with a business degree (“business managers”) reduce their employees’ wages. Within five years of the appointment of a business manager, wages decline by 6% and the labor share by 5 percentage points in the US, and by 3% and 3 percentage points in Denmark. Firms appointing business managers are not on differential trends and do not enjoy higher output, investment, or employment growth thereafter. Using manager retirements and deaths and an IV strategy based on the diffusion of the practice of appointing business managers within industry, region and size quartile cells, we provide additional evidence that these are causal effects. We establish that the proximate cause of these (relative) wage effects are changes in rent-sharing practices following the appointment of business managers. Exploiting exogenous export demand shocks, we show that non-business managers share profits with their workers, whereas business managers do not. But consistent with our first set of results, these business managers show no greater ability to increase sales or profits in response to exporting opportunities. Finally, we use the influence of role models on college major choice to instrument for the decision to enroll in a business degree in Denmark and show that our estimates correspond to causal effects of practices and values acquired in business education – rather than the differential selection into business education of individuals unlikely to share rents with workers.”