This page is designated to my MBA
distance learning studies at Open University Business School.
I finshed my MBA with the last course "Creativity, Innovation
& Cange" in 2004. If you are considering to start on
such a program, you can find the B800
course calendar (1.336 KB) and the B800
study guides (1.137 KB) with information about all the materials
I had to read and work through during the first year in B800 (PDF
format). Below, at the top of the page you will find some of the
question papers for the "homeworks" (so-called TMAs
= Tutor Marked Assignments) I need to write for my MBA studies,
starting with B800 and further down followed by the next courses.
These may either give you a first impression of the MBA program
at Open University (if you are looking for information to decide
about starting an MBA) or it may just give you some comparision
opportunities (if you are already studying at Open University
or any other college, university or business school). The rest
of the page was written for potential students who need more
information about MBAs in general. If you are looking for
even more information than you can find on this page, please feel
free to send me an email with your questions or comments: Viktor@TheMakowskis.de
|Nov 2002 - Oct 2003
||Foundations of Senior Management
||replaced by B713 Fundamentals
of senior management
|Nov 2002 - Apr 2003
|May 2003 - Oct 2003
||Additional one year compulsory
course B830 "Making a Difference" may now be studied
|Nov 2003 - Apr 2004
|May 2004 - Oct 2004
||Creativity, Innovation and
I previously posted my TMA's and the remarks
of my tutors on this page. The Open University Business School
has asked me to remove these documents in order to prevent plagiarism.
If you are interested in receiving single samples via email,
please contact me directly and we can personally address the
B800 Foundations of
Senior Management (1 year)
||6 Dec 2001
72 / 100
||17 Jan 2002
82 / 100
||21 Feb 2002
67 / 100
||4 Apr 2002
83 / 100
||9 May 2002
62 / 100
||13 Jun 2002
87 / 100
|TMA 07 & 08
||Marketing & Organizations
||5 Sep 2002
85 / 100
44 / 100
64 / 100
* send me an email if you are interested in a
Back to Course Table
||13 Dec 2002
64 / 100
||Marks & Spencer
||27 Jan 2003
74 / 100
||World Of Medicine AG
||26 Mar 2003
70 / 100
Back to Course Table
B821 Financial Strategy
||8 Jun 2003
85 / 100
||Finance and Investment
||27 Jul 2003
78 / 100
||7 Sep 2003
88 / 100
Back to Course Table
Knowledge (1/2 year)
||Team Project Taxonomy
||10 Dec 2003
72 / 100
||Intellectual Capital Report
||28 Jan 2004
63 / 100
||Organisational Change Initiative
||26 Mar 2004
54 / 100
I can recommend this course to those students,
who are interested in a "knowledge perspective" of their
day-to-day management problems. But do not expect something "radically
new". I would say about 20% of the students in the course
strongly disliked it and the others liked it a lot. I think there
is not much room between the two extremes. The course is a bit
"touchy - feely", so don't choose it if you don't like
this. If you really liked the following B800 articles, this course
is right for you:
1. Achieving dynamic stability through information
technology, Andrew C. Boynton, The New Management Reader, ISBN
2. Information politics, Thomas H. Davenport,
Robert G. Eccles and Laurence Prusak, The New Management Reader,
3. The factory as a learning laboratory,
Dorothy Leonard-Barton, Managing Learning, ISBN 1-86152-198-7
But do not expect a "tool-box" for
knowledge management. You should also not expect a focus on technologies
like intranet, groupware or document management systems. If you
are a "technology freak" like myself, you may even have
a disappointing technology experience in TMA1, which makes intensive
use of internet conferencing and shows the benefits and limits.
One of the central statements of the course is that knowledge
management is 70% people, 20% process and only 10% technology.
The entire course revolves around the concept of "tacit knowledge"
and "explicit knowledge" (Nonaka & Takeuchi) and
has a strong focus on "informal networking","communities
of practice" and "learning organizations".
Back to Course Table
Innovation and Change (1/2 year)
||Personal Style & Organisational
||15 Jun 2004
72 / 100
||Creative Problem Exploration
||2 Aug 2004
53 / 100
||Innovation Strategy for W.O.M.
||24 Sep 2004
74 / 100
Back to Course Table
In addition to these TMAs, The MBA program contains
- Complementary tutorials and day schools approximately
every 6 to 8 weeks (one Saturday, for me in Munich, but in many
other large cities, not mandatory)
- Mandatory residential school (between 2 and
4 days per course, mainly over a weekend, for Europe these are
in the Netherlands, Ireland, England, Scotland and a couple
of other countries, residential schools are currently being
reduced for some courses in order to save costs)
- One 3 hours written exam at the end of the
course (mostly in the same city you have your tutorials).
O.k., here we go: When
I started thinking about an MBA, there were a couple of questions
I tried to answer for myself to make a decently educated decision:
- Why an MBA?
- Why distance learning?
- Which College or University
should I choose?
- What about the Rankings?
1. Why an
The "Master of Business Administration"
is a well known and internationally widely recognized masters
degree. After spending three years of my life working in California
and having spend all of my career since 1993 working for companies
with important international business connections, I wanted to
concentrate on the development of my finance, marketing and management
skills within an international environment. I was always interested
in the marketing background and theoretical foundations of my
work as a product manager in different organizations. My purely
technical background as a mechanical and biomedical engineer did
not satisfy the needs of my growing responsibilities within the
marketing organizations I worked for as a product manager. I found
the MBA to be the best fit for what I want to achieve during the
next couple of years: an upper management position within the
marketing organization of a leading medical technology company.
Back to Questions
The choice was clear from the very
beginning. A full time MBA would be absolutely impossible for
me. I have a family with (at that time) two children (*1998, *2001)
to support. In no way, shape or form would I be able to give up
a regular salary. It had to be a distance learning program, preferably
an MBA with strong internet usage, since I am a total believer
in the benefits of internet and email (as you can probably tell
from these pages).
I also had to find a company that
would pay for my MBA (I knew that the cost would roughly be €
30.000 for the full program) and would also support my studies.
It was clear that I would probably have to "sell my soul"
by signing a long term contract with the company or otherwise
pay back the money if I quit before the employer can benefit from
the investment. I was successful on both accounts (payment &
support) when I re-joined World
of Medicine in 2001 (after working there between 1993 and
1998 during my first job).
I actually ended up paying my MBA
from my own pocket since I did not stay long enough with World
of Medicine to keep their money after my final exam. Nevertheless
it has been worth every cent. See
this German article for your reference.
Back to Questions
3. Which College
or University should I choose?
This is probably the hardest question to answer
and it was the one that took me the longest time to decide. I
obviously took a look at all those different rankings you can
find and finally came up with my own list of important factors:
- The College or University should be accredited
by at least two of the three major MBA accreditation organizations
AACSB (America), AMBA
(UK), (Note that the term "MBA" is not protected.
Anybody can open a school and offer this degree).
- The distance learning program should not be
a simple "appendix" of a full-time MBA program. The
materials should be specifically designed for distance learning
purposes. The reading should be supported by other media such
as audio and video tapes, computer spreadsheets and other programs
and internet tools.
- Local study groups should exist close to your
home in order to allow for some networking with other students.
This will always be limited during distance learning, but some
programs will support this more than others.
- The college or university should be well known
to potential future employers. It should at least show up in
some of the available rankings and it should have some "cloud"
or reputation. Good reviews from students are a plus (Careful!
An MBA is not supposed to be easy!). I believe rankings
are highly over-stressed by the print media, but they can be
useful as a guideline.
- The program should allow for certain interruptions
if the circumstances (private or job) should change dramatically
and you should not loose the money if these interruptions become
- The balance between "real life applicability"
and "networking opportunities" needs to be right for
you. I found it much more important to immediately apply the
theories I learned in the real life of my day-to-day work. This
is the big advantage of distance learning programs. The "networking
opportunities" of distance learning programs are limited
to residential school and study groups (which can be very good
if you take full advantage of these opportunities). Full time
programs give you much more "networking" but far less
"real life experience", since you are "out of
the job" during the full-time studies.
My last two candidates in the Munich area were
Open University Business
School and Henley Management
College. I made my final decision in favour of Open University
based on above points, by attending information evenings of Open
University and Henley, through personal discussion with representatives
of Open University and Henley, internet research and additional
email contact with former students. The following extracts from
two emails were very important for my final decision:
Back to Questions
Concerning the aspect of networking with international
managers, this has traditionally been a criticism of the DL approach
as compared to the
full-time approach. There is naturally an important point which
is being made here because networking is important and full-time
programmes offer greater opportunity for working within groups
on a daily basis.
What one needs to consider in addition is:
- how do DL programmes overcome this? What degree of networking
do they offer?
- what are the advantages of DL programmes against full-time?
You can make a balanced decision weighing up the
pros and cons of each. The obvious advantage of DL is that you
remain in work and benefit from experience while learning, but
there are more advantages than that.
The learning experience, seen purely pedagogically
is a more efficient one because:
- it takes place over a longer time
- it allows you to apply what you learn to the real world on a
- you use your organisation as a living case study = powerful
for your relationship with the organisation; powerful as a basis
These are significant weaknesses of full-time
programmes, and part-time programmes which have the character
of crash courses. How much more can you assimilate over the period
of learning in each case? There is such a depth of learning available
to you in the MBA, and you can only assimilate so much in a given
time. It is inevitalbe that with the DL method you are going to
have a longer period to get more out of the richness of the programme.
The result is that it sits deeper and longer.
There was an interesting discussion between MBA
graduates of INSEAD and of OUBS a couple of years back. The experiences
were in large part quite similar. They differed on the following
points. The INSEAD graduates quoted the contacts they had made
as being the thing they appreciated most; the OUBS graduates quoted
the enrichment of their management competence and the degree to
which the MBA supports their daily work from a practical point
of view. This is not surprising and summarizes a couple of the
pros and cons on each side.
Your decision will be based on where you place
your value more strongly. I hope the above helps you.
I can offer you names of graduates and students
of the OUBS so that you can see how they feel about the networking
aspect. There is a lot I could say on that, as networking is certainly
a strong aspect of the OUBS MBA (through tutorials, residential
schools, computer conferencing) , but it is better to hear that
from a number of graudates individually than from me. I attach
a few addresses for you to contact if you wish. Let me know if
you would like more!
My QAA report is at the end of the email. The
EQUIS report is similar to the QAA in its general quality remit,
but goes further into issues
expected of a business school (internationality for example).
QAA (formerly HEFCE), Quality Assurance Association
Quality Report on the OUBS 1994
I spoke to the QAA 8 October 2001 inquiring about
the validity of the report on OUBS. I asked two questions:
1. what is the role of the QAA (formerly called
HEFCE, Higher Education Funding Council for England).2. what is
the validity and shelf life of the quality reports. The QAA communications
officer answered as follows.
The role of the QAA is to act as
1. an agent for the UK government
The QAA reviews all university programmes in the
UK (for example business at the OU; chemistry at University of
London) and provides the government with a report as to the university's
entire approach to quality, covering issues such as quality procedures,
how quality is maintained, and what quality standard they are
keeping to. This forms the government's control
mechanism to ensure they are investing their money in the right
2. an independent agent for UK universities
UK universities decided to have an independent
control mechanism as to their institutional quality and engage
the QAA to carry this out. The QAA reviews the entire institution
to monitor standards of individual universities.
The audits are lengthy and involve considerable
effort on the part of the Universities and the QAA, and therefore
are carried out on a 6 yearly basis, in order not to bring the
higher education system to a grinding halt.
How valid are the reports?
The QAA has the option to review any programme
or institution at any time, depending on the following:
i) the review period of 6 years is over
ii) reviews carried out on other programmes of the university
indicate broader problems
iii) there is reason for concern arising from other information
iv) general sense of confidence in the institution is lacking
When the review period (i) is due the QAA will
look at the institution generally and ask for a report from the
institution on changes that have taken place since the last review.
If the level of confidence in the institution is high, and there
are no reports of deficiencies arising elsewhere, and no significant
changes are reported to have taken place by the institution then
the QAA can opt not to review immediately and so uphold the validity
of the previous report.
This is the case with the report carried out on
the OUBS in 1994, which the QAA considers to be valid with reference
to the quality procedures and quality maintenance of the OUBS.
The next review will be carried out between now and 2003. http://www.qaa.ac.uk/revreps/subjrev/All/q177-94.htm.
Back to Questions
1. How can Henley say they are the biggest part-time
MBA programme of the world? http://www.henleymc.ac.uk/henleymc01.nsf/pages/businessweek?opendocument.
I thought OUBS is? Or is Open University the largest distance
learning University, but not necessarily the MBA programme at
=> I think this article is not accurate - the
OUBS has over 6000 MBA graduates currently, and the article claims
it is nearly double the next biggest. I guess this is journalistic
2. Is OUBS working on an accreditation with AACSB
=> The OUBS is in the process of being accredited
with AACSB (I believe it will be the first Distance Learning programme
to gain accreditation with them, as AACSB is having to redesign
its rules to be able to accredit DL programmes - currently designed
only for full-time programmes). It is likely to come through in
3. How did the student numbers develop over the
last 3 years?
=> In Germany I estimate there to have been
an increase of between 20 and 30% over the last 3 years. In the
UK the OUBS has been one of the few business schools to maintain
its market position against the background of a saturated market.
I don't know off-hand what the exact average has been over the
last 3 years for the UK, but can find out if you wish.
4. I'd appreciate any www-link to a ranking that
=> from our www.oubs.open.ac/germany page there
is a link to the OUBS rating with the UK governments HEFCE reports
Apart from the Telegraph ranking and the HEFCE
(rating rather than ranking) I do not have further links to pass
on. This is part due to the fact that rankings on DL programmes
have to date been neglected in favour of full-time programmes
by the traditional rankers, and only those universities which
also have full-time programmes (alongside their DL) have a ranking
(this will be not of their DL programmes, rather their full-time
programmes). Ranking itself is a system to beware of, and although
universities use rankings in their publicity, few admit that they
are of any objective value. I think The
Economist Guide to MBAs has an interesting section on this
Back to Questions
4. What about the Rankings?
Although rankings are not the most important
factor, here you have a couple of them (as of 2001). As you can
see, my final decision was not based on these rankings but on
other more important factors (at least more important to me):
Ranking of best European MBA Programs by William
H Cox (Book in German), (Based mainly on authors opinion)
1- INSEAD; 2- London Business School; 3- IMD; 4- Manchester Business
School; 5- Instituto de Empressa; 6- GSBA Zurich; 7- Cranfield;
8- Nijenrode; 10- WHU Koblenz; 11- Henley;
12- SDA Bocconi; 13- RotterdamSchool of Management; 14- Wirtschaftuniversitat
Wien; 15- HEC-ISA; 16- E MLyon; 17- Ashridge; 18- Cambridge; 19-
ESADE; 20- Heksinki School of Economics
'Long Range Planning Journal' (UK), Vol 33,
2000, Ranking of European Business Schools, (Based on Academic
Reputation as indicated by their research publications)
1- London Bus School; 2- INSEAD; 3- Tel Aviv. 4- Warwick; 5- Manchester
BSchool; 6- Cambridge; 7- Erasmus; 8- City; 8- Cranfield;=10-
London School of Economics; 10- Stockholm, Economics; 12- Katholeke,
Belgium; 12- Tilburg; 14- Limburg; 15- Oxford; 15- Reading; 17-
Carfiff; 17- Lancaster; 17- Leeds; 20- Groningen; 21- IMD; 21-
Nottingham; 23- Hebrew; 24- Strathclyde; 25- Ashridge; 25- Sheffield;
25- Wales,Swansea; 28- Bath; 28- HEC, Paris; 28- Norwegian Mgt;
31- Birmingham; 31- Henley; 31 Southampton;
31- Technion; 35- Amsterdam; 35- Copenhagen; 35- U C Dublin; 38-
Aston; 38- Bradford; 38- Cyprus; 38- ESSEC; 38- Free U, Belgium;
38- Haifa; 38- Toulouse; 38- Wageningen
International Herald Tribune (Europe), 2 November 1998,Ranking
of European MBA Programs (conducted by Cox Communications forAudimax
magazine, Germany),(Based on views of Students. European Schools
1- INSEAD; 2- London Business School; 3- IMD; 4- (equal) Instituto
de Empressa; Grad School of Bus Admin, Zurich; 7- Cranfield; 8-
IESE, Spain;9- Nijenrode; 10- WHU Koblenz; 11-
Henley; 12- SDA Bocconi; 13- Rotterdam;14- Wirtschaftsuniversitaet,
Wien; 15- ISA-HEC, France; 16- Groupe ERSC Lyon; 17- Ashridge;
18- Cambridge; 19- ESADE, Spain; 20- Helsinki School of Economics
Most Popular UK Schools
1- Open Univ; 2- Cranfield; 3- Warwick;
4- City Univ; 5- Manchester Bus School; 6- London Business School;
7- Henley; 8- Bradford Univ; 9- Durham
Univ; 10- Aston
EUROPE'S TOP 20 MBA PROGRAMS AS PUBLISHED
1 INSEAD France 2 LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL Great Britain 3 IMD Switzerland
4 Rotterdam School of Management Netherlands 5 Instituto de Empresa
Spain 6 Manchester Business School Great Britain 7 IESE Spain
8 ISA HEC School of Management France 9 Ashridge Management College
Great Britain 10 SDA Bocconi Italy 11 Cranfield School of Management
Great Britain 12 Nijenrode University Netherlands 13 GSBA Zürich
Switzerland 14 Warwick Business School Great Britain 15 E.M.Lyon
rance 16 Henley Management College Great
Britain 17 The Judge Institute University of Cambridge
Great Britain 18 ESADE Spain 19 Imperial College Management School
Great Britain 20 Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration
UK MBA ranking table (Financial Times)
1 London Business School (1) 2 Said, Oxford (7) 3 Manchester (3)
4 Warwick (5) 5 Cranfield (2) 6 Edinburgh Uni (11) 7 Imperial
(4) 8 City (6) 9 Ashridge (9) 10 Nottingham (-) 11 Strathclyde
(17) 12 Bradford (16) 13 NIMBAS 14 Leeds Uni (12) 15 Lancaster
(15) 16 Bath (20) 17 Cambridge (8) 18 Henley
(10) 19 Sheffield (13) 20 Kingston (18) 21 Oxford Brookes (19)
22 Newcastle (21) 23 Durham (22) 24 Exeter (23) 25 Manchester
Metro (24) 25 Nottingham Trent (24) 25 Southampton (24) 25 Sheffield