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One hundred and fifty prosperous looking students at the Business School packed their bags and left yesterday. This is a legitimate exit, however, because the gentlemen involved are only part-time students. Away from Cambridge they are all high business executives. In Cambridge they are part of the Business School's Advanced Management Program, a concentrated course for experienced business leaders.
The histus the A.M.P.'s are currently enjoying is designed to give them a chance to catch up briefly on what's going on at the office. For some of them, getting to their firms will involve a substantial trip because the businessmen come for their courses from every state in the Union. A few firms consider the advanced management training valuable enough to send their proteges from abroad. Last year, even an Indonesian company sent a representative to the course.
Businessmen apparently hold the Advanced Management Program in high esteem because each year, according to the trade journal "Personnel," "vice-presidents, managers, and other executives" scramble for opportunities to attend one of the 13 week courses. Since the program began after the war, more than 1,250 men from over 250 companies have enrolled.
Nor is sending a representative to the Business School course something a firm will do on a whim. It's so expensive, in fact, that most of the A.M.P.'s come from "blue chip" firms which can afford to lose an important executive, pay his salary while he's absent (they are invariably over $10,000), and pay his expenses at the Business School, which amount to between $1,500 and $1,800 for the 13-week period. The tuition fee alone is $800, and the executives also have to pay $15, $225275, and $350 for medical fee, room, and food respectively. Since the business men are accustomed to a reasonably high standard of living, they usually balk at eating college fare steadily and estimate that they spend an extra $250 sampling what Boston has to offer in the line of fine food.
Besides meeting and exchanging information with their colleagues, which is something the A.M.P.'s consider particularly valuable, the executives study in six specialized fields:
1. Administrative practices, which deals with problems of personnel and human relations which companies face.
2. Cost and financial administration, a study of technical accounting and budgetary procedures.
3. Marketing management, a survey of the techniques of quantity production, price changing, and sales stimulation.
4. Production management.
5. Business and the American economy.
6. Problems in labor relations. This has generally been the most popular course among A.M.P.'s.
This program, said an oil company executive last year when he finished his course, "broadens the businessman's outlook, his understanding of business, and above all, it forces a man to think, and think seriously about many phases of business which he does not ordinarly consider."
To Each His Dean
Like any University student, the A.M.P. has a Dean and an assistant Dean to whom he can take problems. Unlike the other students, however, he is provided with stenographic service and a ticket service if he has to travel.
The gentlemen who enjoy these amenities while they "improve themselves" range in age from 30 to 60. Hard business experience and a good record in the company are the main criteria for admission. Of the present class, about two-thirds have taken college degrees but several are "self made men" and a few never went to high school.
Occasionally men come to the Advanced Management Program to cure certain personal business problems. In the spring session last year, an executive in a Brazilian branch of an American firm enthusiastically reported that the program had succeeded in teaching him to use the English language skillfully again. He had let his English lapse while using Portuguese for an extended period.
Most of the A.M.P.'s have families but they are urged to leave them at home on the grounds that "they are distracting" and because all A.M.P.'s should live together. The Business School places great emphasis on informal discussions tmong them.
Most of these discussions take place in Hamilton Hall, the small dormitory located on the right wing of the main Business School courtyard. Hamilton has a pleasant lounge with huge leather chairs, and subdued lighting which is supposed to make up for the down town clubs the A.M.P.'s were used to attending and as an attraction to keep the business men in Hamilton so they will talk to each other.
Coffee at Eleven
Providing course schedules permit, the A.M.P.'s meet in Hamilton at 11 a.m. each morning for coffee and discussion. Every Monday, they meet with notable people from heavy industry, other businesses, and education for a lecture. After delivering his talk, the lecturer has to withstand questioning from the assembled magnates. The lecturers claim they like it, though, because they feel for once they're working with a really interested audience.
Occasionally, A.H.P.'s seize their association with eminent colleagues as a great opportunity to plug the product they help produce. Last year an airline man advertised energetically between classes and passed out complimentary tickets to entice his fellow A.M.P.'s to switch to air travel if they had not already done so.
One term, representatives of rival soap companies vied with each other and passed out samples of their soap in the Hamilton Hall wash rooms, and on another occasion, an enthusiastic fountain pen company man liberally passed out his product.
About once a week, the A.M.P.'s pile into cars and snoop around industrial plants in the Greater Boston area as part of the "know the other man's business" part of the program.
Though the Business School has been dabbling with training adults almost since its inception, the present Advanced Management Program doesn't seem to have had any recognizable ancester until shortly before the war when Philip Cabot, professor of Business Administration, introduced a series of seminars for New England businessmen.
Took Shape During War
The Cabot seminars took more formal shape during the war years and crystallized into the present Advanced Management Program at the war's end.
Some companies have been particularly enthusiastic about the program. The Esso division of Standard Oil has already sent 80 men in the relatively short time the program has been functioning. Esso carefully briefs its representatives about what it wants them to concentrate on before they report to Harvard.
This year's A.M.P. crew of 150 is two-thirds of the way through the program. With only four weeks to go, they already seem pleased.
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