Critical Perspectives on Management

For each course in my homemade MBA curriculum, I will provide before-and-after commentary – think of it as a Coursera course review.  The before section will cover my expectations going into the course and any specific reasons I chose to take it.  The after section will be a reflection of what I thought of the course (format, material, professor, workload, etc.), what I learned vs. what I expected to learn, and whether or not I would recommend it to others (and why).  I hope this Coursera course-review format is useful for the rest of you out there who are making your own homemade MBAs using Coursera.

Homemade MBA Coursera course:  Critical Perspectives on Management

Critical Perspectives on Management, IE Business School

Critical Perspectives on Management, IE Business School

  • Parent University:  IE Business School
  • Description:  An unconventional approach to management strategy! This class offers students the opportunity to explore today’s management practices from unexpected perspectives in order to ask provocative questions about the modern business environment. This approach will allow us to interrogate key management concepts in order to explore the thinking that informs them and, as importantly, the form of capitalism they foster.


Chosen to replicate the HBS MBA course: Leadership and Corporate Accountability

  • Description:  In this course, students learn about the complex responsibilities facing business leaders today. Through cases about difficult managerial decisions, the course examines the legal, ethical, and economic responsibilities of corporate leaders. It also teaches students about management and governance systems leaders can use to promote responsible conduct by companies and their employees, and shows how personal values can play a critical role in effective leadership.



Expectations going in:

  • I expect to learn about the best practices in general management, and how to weigh the consequences of managerial decisions.  I am looking forward to the “critical perspectives” angle, as I hope this takes a slightly contrarian approach to classic business situations and cases.

Specific reasons I chose this course:

  • I chose this class because it very closely mirrors the HBS MBA curriculum course, Leadership and Corporate Accountability.  I also chose this class because it is offered by IE Business school, a top tier business school with a top MBA program.


My thoughts of the course:

  • Format – great
    • This class used the reliable structure of posting a week of video lectures accompanied by a weekly homework assignment.  However, Critical Perspectives on Management also had superb video lectures.  This was a course that used a nice combination of green screen/studio filming in combination with video from real-life lectures, but with multiple cameras and many angles.  The videos were top notch, professionally edited, and very engaging to watch.  I honestly feel that my experience as a remote participant was superior to what the students in the classroom experienced.
  • Material – simple
    • No-nonsense and straight forward, there were lectures and quizzes.  I really enjoyed the simplicity of this format.  The videos weren’t too long, and the quizzes were of moderate difficulty.
  • Professor – interesting
    • Rolf Strom-Olsen was interesting for a few reasons.  As I mentioned in my First Impressions post, he is a Historian.  This is a significant departure for a business school course, which typically have business school trained faculty teaching the courses.  Rolf’s passion for history added some flavor to the class discussion and shed some new light on some cases.
    • It was also refreshing to have a not American instructor.  Most of my MOOC MBA courses were taught by Americans, in the US, so this was a welcome departure.  The differences in culture and perspective also enhanced the lectures and the course in general.
  • Workload – light
    • This class was not difficult.  If you kept up with the schedule and absorbed all the material, you score highly on the quizzes.  Not a big time commitment either – the weekly routine was a breeze.
  • Other
    • I must say it again – the video editing here gets you a few extra X-factor points.

What I learned vs. what I expected to learn

  • This class met my expectations.  I expected to learn a few things about general management, and we accomplished that.  I will say that Rolf kept things pretty interesting by using some atypical examples (e.g. studying the ancient Roman grain market), which were simultaneously entertaining and educational.  That’s always a plus.

Would I recommend this course to others?

  • Yes

Why/Why not

  • I think time spent taking Critical Perspectives on Management is well spent.  It won’t change your life, but you will learn some things and think about capitalism in a new way.  That’s healthy – especially for American students who may think capitalism is infallible.


As a reminder, each course of my homemade MBA curriculum replicates a course from Harvard Business School’s first-year Required Curriculum.

Critical Perspectives on Management

If you have any thoughts or questions about this course or my review of it, please let me know in the comments section below.