Olin Business School Program Wins MBA Roundtable Innovator Award

Top Quote Olin's program, Critical Thinking@Olin, receives recognition for enhancing MBA education. End Quote
  • St. Louis, MO-IL (1888PressRelease) November 19, 2011 - Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis has received the inaugural MBA Roundtable Innovator Award for its program called Critical Thinking @ Olin. The educational initiative is designed to develop critical thinking skills in MBA students and has had measurable impact on graduates' success in the job market.

    The MBA Roundtable Innovator Award was created to recognize and promote innovative initiatives in MBA education and to acknowledge the institutions that are driving change in the field.

    The MBA Roundtable presented Olin Business School with the award at its seventh annual curricular innovation symposium, held this year in Seattle, WA, on November 17-18, 2011.

    The Critical Thinking @ Olin initiative
    The Critical Thinking @ Olin initiative was developed to address the need for more advanced critical thinking skills among MBA graduates.

    "This has become an issue for businesses around the world, and we wanted to create a new way to respond to this pressing employer need," said Jackson A. Nickerson, Frahm Family Professor of Organization and Strategy at Olin, who chaired the effort.

    "Few business schools teach critical thinking, and those that do focus on argumentation, logic and logical fallacies," said Nickerson.

    "Olin has developed an educational approach with a different focus. We focus on the ability to comprehensively formulate or diagnose problems. Through Critical Thinking @ Olin students develop the ability to formulate and ultimately solve the right strategic problem the first time."

    Key to the multifaceted initiative is a standard inquiry process that helps students define problems without jumping to solutions. Students are first introduced to the process in orientation, using case studies, written assignments, and peer and self- assessments. Every course in the MBA curriculum is also required to incorporate critical thinking, and students are provided multiple resources that reinforce the content.

    Critical Thinking @ Olin has had a direct and positive impact on student success in the job market. The rate at which summer interns receive full-time job offers doubled after the initiative's launch and employment rates for Olin MBA students, 90 days post-graduation, have been among the top schools for the past three years. Recruiter feedback offers many testimonials about Olin students' improved ability to face today's business challenges.

    "Washington University's initiative addresses the gap I see in managerial thinking by emphasizing problem-solving and team-dynamics," said David Lifschitz, a member of the MBA Roundtable Innovator Award selection committee and president of Gehr Group, a Los Angeles-based diversified global holding company.

    "I look for these exact critical thinking skills in candidates for executive positions. Washington University has been very open about sharing its experience with other schools, so I think this could have a strong impact on the greater MBA community."

    MBA Roundtable Innovator Award Finalists
    Other finalists for the award were Babson College for its fast-track development of a common core curriculum for its four MBA programs; Dalhousie University for Canada's first Corporate Residency MBA; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for its online MBA program and its integration with the university's traditional MBA program; and University of Pennsylvania for its Global Modular Courses, an accelerated study abroad program.

    "All of our finalists were pushing the envelope in terms of creating innovative initiatives," said Henry Eyring, a member of the selection committee, co-author of Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out, and advancement vice president at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

    "As a judge, I looked at them with the mindset of a venture capitalist-which initiative would I want to invest in? Washington University rose to the top. Their Critical Thinking ( @ ) Olin initiative is unique, it's replicable by other institutions, and it has clear outcomes dot "

    Selection Committee Members
    In addition to Lifschitz and Eyring, other selection committee members for the MBA Roundtable Innovator Award included Robert Grosse, director of the Center for Global Business Innovation and Transformation at George Mason University; Santiago Iniguez de Onzono, dean and professor of Strategic Management at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain; Michael Jewell, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and business consultant, and founder and former CEO of Celebrate Express; and Dorothy Jones, senior director of innovation at Frito-Lay North America.

    About the MBA Roundtable
    The MBA Roundtable is a collaborative, nonprofit organization, founded in 1995, that facilitates the exchange of information and resources on MBA curricular innovation. More than 150 business schools from across the world are members of the MBA Roundtable. For more information, visit

    About Olin Business School
    Founded in 1917, Washington University's business school offers 12 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate and executive levels. For more information, visit:

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