Product Description and Author Information
About the Book
A riveting and timely intellectual history of one of our most important capitalist institutions, Harvard Business School, from the bestselling author of The Firm.
With The Firm, financial journalist Duff McDonald pulled back the curtain on consulting giant McKinsey & Company. In The Golden Passport, he reveals the inner workings of a singular nexus of power, ambition, and influence: Harvard Business School.
Harvard University occupies a unique place in the public’s imagination, but HBS has arguably eclipsed its parent in terms of its influence on modern society. A Harvard degree guarantees respect. An HBS degree is, as the New York Times proclaimed in 1978, "the golden passport to life in the upper class." Those holding Harvard MBAs are near-guaranteed entrance into Western capitalism’s most powerful realm—the corner office.
Most people have a vague knowledge of the power of the HBS network, but few understand the dynamics that have made HBS an indestructible and powerful force for almost a century. As McDonald explores these dynamics, he also reveals how, despite HBS’s enormous success, it has failed with respect to the stated goal of its founders: "the multiplication of men who will handle their current business problems in socially constructive ways." While HBS graduates tend to be very good at whatever they do, that is rarely the doing of good.
In addition to teasing out the essence of this exclusive, if not necessarily "secret" club, McDonald explores two important questions: Has the school failed at reaching the goals it set for itself? And is HBS therefore complicit in the moral failings of Western capitalism? At a time of pronounced economic disparity and political unrest, this hard-hitting yet fair portrait offers a much-needed look at an institution that has a profound influence on the shape of our society and all our lives.
“The Golden Passport isn’t the first (and won’t be the last) time that pointed criticism has been aimed at the Harvard Business School, but it is certainly the most thorough to date. The story McDonald tells isn’t a simplistic one. Rather, he argues that the analytical modus operandi of Harvard-trained MBAs has damaged not just particular companies, but the very fabric of society itself. It’s a convincing and important call for change.” —Bethany McLean, co-author of The Smartest Guys in the Room
“Exploring how Harvard Business School became a ticket to the highest echelons of money, power, and influence, McDonald (The Firm) chronicles the school’s history in an irreverent, cynical, and frequently funny exposé of its pretensions...refreshingly substitutes skepticism for reverence, questioning the limits of business education and of capitalism in general.” —No Source
“This is serious history, broad in its sweep and meticulous in the detail.” —Wall Street Journal
“Exploring how Harvard Business School became a ticket to the highest echelons of money, power, and influence, McDonald (The Firm) chronicles the school’s history in an irreverent, cynical, and frequently funny exposé of its pretensions...refreshingly substitutes skepticism for reverence, questioning the limits of business education and of capitalism in general.” —Publishers Weekly
“McDonald’s reporting highlights the school’s influence, such as detailing how HBS helped the U.S. win WWII by marrying mathematics and statistics to war strategy, and also how HBS helped define and establish the foundations of managerial knowledge in the country and put American management at the forefront of global business. ” —Booklist
“A massively detailed history of Harvard Business School since its founding in 1908 and a searing critique of the school’s impact on American capitalism…..McDonald’s deep research into the 100-plus years of HBS-the faculty members, the courses offered, many of the students-is undoubtedly impressive.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The Golden Passport is a tour-de-force about one of our nation’s most important and enduring symbols of capitalism. Whether you aspire to attend Harvard Business School or you disdain it for its disproportionate influence on Wall Street and in the executive suites of our major corporations, McDonald’s investigative-reporting masterpiece is a must read.” —William D. Cohan, New York Times bestselling author of House of Cards
“[A] richly reported indictment of the school as a leading reason that corporate America is disdained by much of the country....in example after example, Mr. McDonald sets out his thesis that money and influence have distorted both the school’s curriculum and the worldview espoused by its professors.” —Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times
“Duff McDonald’s The Golden Passport is the detailed story of Harvard Business School (HBS) that, willingly marinated in corporate money and influence, prepares each generation of ‘modern’ corporate tycoons. HBS, while alert to shaping the latest management techniques, is largely indifferent to the ongoing corporate crime wave and other criminogenic behavior and externalities corrosive of fundamental civic values and economic equities. Readers can bury their noses in this prodigious tome and come away with a stench of affluent decadence.” —Ralph Nader
Duff McDonald’s Golden Passport is a magisterial history of Harvard Business School and much more. It provides a powerful lens into the intellectual underpinnings and pragmatic failures of American business and American capitalism writ large. —Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class