Does the Business World Prefer Generalists or Specialists?

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Does the Business World Prefer Generalists or Specialists?
Chloe Xu, Australia, Premium Member
A study on nearly 400 students who graduated from top programs in 2008 and 2009 and went into investment banking revealed that students who had specialized in this area throughout were less welcomed than those who had broader backgrounds and experiences. What’s more, specialists were offered smaller signing bonuses, in some cases, they earned up to $48,000 less than their generalist peers.
Major reasons behind the preference for generalists of businesses include:
  • In labour markets with strong instructional screening mechanisms, specialization won’t be as valuable. In the absence of other information, it's an important indicator of skill, but graduation from a top MBA program is a strong signal to the market that someone is qualified. In that scenario, demonstrating consistency is no longer advantageous.
  • Employers may discount experiences that incrementally extend previous efforts. Experienced recruiting managers said things like “someone who has acc...Sign up


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