On the Prevalence of Linear versus Nonlinear Thinking in Undergraduate Business Education: A Lot of Rhetoric, Not Enough Evidence

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The purpose of this research is to examine the undergraduate learning goals of business programs and determine if these goals are skewed in the directions posed by critics of undergraduate business education. The underlying theme of many critiques is that nonlinear-thinking processes are underrepresented in undergraduate business curricula, whereas linear-thinking processes are overrepresented. The learning goals of 208 Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International-accredited business programs were coded into two goal categories: linear thinking and nonlinear thinking. The results support the contention that nonlinear-thinking processes have a lesser presence in the typical undergraduate business program’s curriculum. These findings are consistent across research and teaching universities.