Management Training Program: 1945 - 1955

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Crossroads for Educated Women

After World War II, the Training Course in Personnel Administration was renamed the Management Training Program and experienced a brief postwar enrollment boom. The new name reflected a broader scope that included human relations as well as production issues related to industry and government. T. North Whitehead, who had served in the war in the British Foreign Office, became director of the program. Ragnhild "Rags" Roberts served as the associate director.

Students studied under the case method system, in which they solved problems identified in hundreds of real business situations. One of the core courses of the program included "Human Problems in Administration." Taught by HBS Professor Fritz J. Roethlisberger, this course moved, "from cases involving the situation of a single individual . . . to the study of more complex cases involving the behavior of a working group and interaction between groups, always in specific situations."8 One class focused on the Hawthorne experiments, then under the direction of HBS Professor Elton Mayo. The famous study, which looked at the needs and motivations of industrial workers at the Western Electric Hawthorne plant located outside of Chicago, helped to usher in the dawn of the human relations movement in business.

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Whitehead understood the disconcerting crossroads women faced at the time. "They have what I can only characterize as an anxious outlook on life; in contrast to their brothers, they find no widely accepted pattern of life which seems to fit their needs. They typically look forward to a few years of full-time professional work and to those many part-time, often unpaid occupations which are of great value to the community."9 Whitehead articulated that his goal for the program was to "equip our students to be competent practitioners in the field of administration and also to give them a broad cultural and moral understanding of their responsibilities as educated women in our American society."10

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Expanding Opportunities in the Workplace

By the early 1950s, enrollment in the Management Training Program was declining, and the program was running a deficit. In 1952, the Division of Research at Harvard Business School (HBS) conducted a study on the opportunities for women at an administrative level and the need for graduate business education for women. From the findings, it was recommended that the Management Training Program continue.11 Confronted with a difficult fiscal situation, however, the President and Council of Radcliffe College voted to terminate the program in 1953. Beginning in 1954, HBS decided to assume the educational component of the program and absorb some of the costs. Radcliffe continued to oversee administrative responsibilities and provide classrooms and housing.

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Through the joint venture, the program was advertised nationally, and enrollment grew to 75 students, a significant increase. The Management Training Program still functioned as a separate entity from the Harvard Business School MBA degree program, but HBS faculty now taught almost all of the courses at Radcliffe. The student population included college-educated women from around the world, many of whom had previous work experience. During the course of the program, students immersed themselves in real-world business experience through full-time field work apprenticeships. Over 100 companies participated as sponsors in the program. Program Director T. North Whitehead worked to connect the students' field work experiences to issues they would face in the workplace.

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The country's production capacity had grown enormously by the end of World War II. In the early 1950s, an increasingly complex corporate environment required more varied expertise, and graduates of the Management Training Program pursued careers in marketing, finance, and industry as well as the more traditional areas of personnel, sales, and publishing.