Managers With MBAs Hurt Worker Pay, Study Finds

The average salary and bonus for MBA grads peaked in 2019.

Managers with business degrees tend to reduce their employees’ wages over time. In other words, if your manager has an MBA, you may end up earning less money.

According to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, US firms that hired managers with business qualifications (“business managers”) saw wages fall by 6% within five years. Within the same time, labor share fell by 5%. The decline is similar in Denmark, where firms with business managers saw a 3% drop in wages. It’s a phenomenon that experts say business schools play a large role in producing.

“If you talk to business schools about our findings, a lot of them don’t find it surprising because part of what they teach is to maximize profits,” Alex He, a finance professor at the University of Maryland and one of the study’s authors, tells Quartz. “We’re just documenting that the kind of profit maximization that they do has these costs on labor.”


The study also found that on top of reducing employee wages, business managers tend to not deliver an increase in profits or sales.

“Exploiting exogenous export demand shocks, we show that non-business managers share profits with their workers, whereas business managers do not,” the authors write. “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.”

And yet, many companies are still intent on hiring managers with advanced business degrees. According to the authors, out of the 9,000 US firms studied, the number with business managers increased from 26% in 1980 to 43% in 2020 (with much of that growth concentrated in MBA degrees). The irony, however, is that business managers don’t actually help improve sales or profits.

“Our evidence suggests that business managers are not more productive,” the authors write. “Firms appointing business managers are not on differential trends and do not enjoy higher sales, productivity, investment, or employment growth following their accession.”

Sources: National Bureau of Economic Research, Quartz, Bloomberg

Next Page: Top Data Analytics Programs

As Big Data gets bigger, demand is soaring for professionals with business analytic skills.

Demand for managers and executives with data analytics experience is surging. The global data analytics market is expected to grow 25% by 2030. And experts say it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

“We’re seeing a growing number of organizations who are keen to use data to make predictions and more informed decisions,” Neumann Chew, professor of business analytics at Nanyang Business School in Singapore, tells

Fortune recently rounded up the top data science and business analytics courses that should be on every executive’s radar—from online certificate options to intensive in-person programs.


At Haas, the Data Science for Leaders program is a three-day in-person boot camp for senior business executives. The curriculum includes the foundations of data science, A/B testing, machine learning, and more.

Students who complete the program receive a Certificate of Completion that can be added to their resumes or LinkedIn profiles.


For professionals with an average of 20 years of work experience, Harvard’s Online Business Analytics Program offers a rigorous nine-month program that teaches professionals how to leverage data analytics tools like predictive analysis, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

Students can expect a mix of live virtual classes and seminars, self-directed coursework, and on-campus visits. The program was designed in collaboration between Harvard Business School (HBS), the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).


Wharton’s Business Analytics: From Data to Insights program is a three-month online certification program that aims to teach executives, managers, analysts, and consultants how to leverage analytics to make better business decisions. The program is designed for executives in a variety of industries, including financial services, health care, IT services, and consulting.

Having the ability to make better decisions informed by data is key. And Wharton’s From Data to Insights program is designed to equip students with those insights.

“I don’t think it’s essential that managers know the internals of how the data gets transformed into a decision,” Prasanna Tambe, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, tells Fortune. “But the important thing to understand is [whether it’s] doing a good job of making a decision.”

Sources: Fortune,, GlobeNewswire

Next Page: In-Demand Jobs For MBAs

MBA employment prospects are bouncing back from a pandemic slump. The median starting salary for MBA hires in 2021 was $115,000—the same starting salary as pre-pandemic 2020 levels, according to GMAC. Moreover, recruiters project strong demand for B-school grads as job prospects continue to grow.

US News recently highlighted some of the hottest jobs for MBA grads in today’s job market.


Corporate profits grew significantly in 2021, according to data by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Financial managers play an important role in managing a company’s cash flow and budget.

“Financial managers, who often are exceptional investors, are trained to solve cash flow problems and sometimes work at financial institutions,” Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at US News, writes. “Any firm that does not spend wisely can die quickly. That’s one reason financial managers – the business executives who monitor a company’s budget and decide where to make financial investments – are usually highly compensated.”

In May 2020, the median annual pay for a financial manager in the US was $134,180, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the job outlook for financial managers looks promising—with 17% projected growth by 2030.


Management consultants help offer solutions to companies facing roadblocks or in need of growth. The profession “has been particularly resilient despite the pandemic,” Tim Rowley, chief operating officer and chief technology officer of PeopleCaddie, tells US News.

Management consultants at any of the Big Three management consulting firms – McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company and Boston Consulting Group – can expect to earn roughly $175,000 a year. The job outlook for management consultants is strong—with a projected growth of 14% by 2030.


Marketing managers are another role in high demand that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Experts say the high demand for marketing managers stems from the need for companies to market their products and services.

“Many businesses find themselves in the fight of their lives by reinventing themselves, finding new ways to do business and probing potential markets for new customer bases,” Marie Gould Harper, dean of the American Public University System’s Boston School of Business in West Virginia, tells US News. “This is where the savvy marketing manager becomes an asset. Someone has to create ideas and develop a strategic plan that provides a blueprint on how to test the markets to determine which direction to go for the New Norm.”

The median annual pay for US marketing managers in May 2020 was $142,170, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Marketing manager jobs are projected to grow 10% by 2030.

Sources: US News, GMAC

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