Affirmative Action & MBA Career Success

Subject: Education
Pages: 20
Words: 5692
Reading time:
22 min
Study level: PhD


The nature and essence of affirmative action programs in the United States of America seems as elongated as the debates, anxieties, and backstabbing that these particular programs have elicited over the years. These programs originated as strategies purposely designed to advance equality for the black population in the country, eventually undergoing a metamorphosis into programs of special preference in the late 20th century after it clearly became apparent that equal opportunity strategies alone could not adequately secure equality for the blacks (Aka, 2009, p. 8). The employment of affirmative action led to increased black presentation or representation in institutions and organizations that were previously viewed as no go zones for the black community due to racial segregation (Ezorsky, 1991, p. 7). Of particular relevance to this study is the fact that affirmative action played a significant role in enabling African American access to prestigious learning environments that were exclusively reserved for the whites.

Various seminal studies have been conducted in the past with a view of shedding more light on how affirmative action has continued to spearhead the attainment of interests postulated by the typical Black American. While there is a general consensus among the black population on how the programs have positively assisted them in many facets of life, including accessing government employment, enrollments into public institutions such as the military, and awarding of federal contracts, majority of whites still retain the view that the special preferences offered to blacks and other minority groups are indeed unjustifiable (Aka, 2009, p. 8). In a poll conducted in California, majority of whites preferred equal opportunity approaches over affirmative action (Harvey, 2007, p. 62). Indeed, according to Kaufman (2007), “efforts to prohibit affirmative action have intensified, perhaps most strikingly in higher education” (p.3). This notwithstanding, affirmative action should be viewed as a benefit to the entire community basically because it ensures and enhances the consideration of input from all members of the community irrespective of race (Roosevelt, 2004, p. 10).

The confrontation of world views and perceptions regarding affirmative action programs is not new in the US. In 1996, voters in the state of California effected an amendment to the state constitution seeking to ban both discrimination and affirmative action processes perceived to offer “preferences to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity, or national origin for public employment, education, or contracting purposes” (Kaufman, 2007, p. 3). However, while such a view may appear to be the ideal standpoint, systematic epidemiological studies reveal glaring disparities about the opportunities and lifestyles prevalent in white-dominated and black-dominated communities (Harvey, 2007, p. 63). In the educational context, the majority of whites have the privilege of schooling in prestigious institutions that undoubtedly guarantee career advancement and success in the future (Dugan et al, n.d. p. 18). This, however, is not the case for many blacks who have to put up with almost ruinous conditions to get some form of education. But for some anomalous motive, the affirmative action programs continue to be subjected to odious grandstanding (Harvey, 2007, p. 63).

Career advancement and success for black students in the ever-evolving and convoluted locale of affirmative action have been a major focal point for many researchers, analysts, and other theorists (Barkan, 2008, p. 49). This is especially so due to the realization that blacks are the country’s most unemployed groups, not mentioning the fact that they are the most disproportionately represented in any career or professional undertaking (Dugan et al, n.d., p. 8). Of particular concern and interest is the presumptuous perception held not so long ago by some elitists that seemed to insinuate that a Masters program at the university level such as an MBA program was a lucrative affair that blacks could ill afford to qualify for (Curtin & Gasman, 2003, p. 79). A longitudinal study conducted over a decade ago also revealed that Black Americans were the least valued workers at the workplace, and are least likely to be offered a promotion to supervisory or managerial positions, academic excellence and certifications notwithstanding (Ezorsky, 1991, p. 65). While the relationship between affirmative action and African American career success have been independently evaluated before, few studies have focused on the impact of affirmative action on the professional and business careers of black MBA graduates.

Statement of Problem

From the slavery days to the Ku Klux Klan and later day executions of black human rights activists, the blacks have suffered immensely under the heavy weight of racial subjugation and intolerance (Feagin, 2001, p.6). Over thousands of millennia, the blacks have been denied the right to live to the fullest potential due to a multiplicity of both audacious and stop-gap strategies and calculated moves aimed at condemning this particular race to the backseat of civilization. Yet the blacks have been resilient in the resolve and determination to accomplish what the other races have been able to, partly with the assistance of such programs as affirmative action. In the US, the programs aimed at remedying the inequities in opportunities for traditionally marginalized races as well as increasing diversity in learning institutions and workplaces by encouraging institutions and organizations to be more representative of the people they serve (Ezorsky, 1991, p. 38). Previously, it was almost impossible for blacks to make inroads in the labor sector especially in relation to promotions and career advancement, and in spite of having the necessary qualifications needed to qualify for such promotions.

According to Ezorsky (1991), competitive requirements that are unrelated to any particular performance either in the educational setting or the job environment has severely limited blacks in the US from not only accessing quality education in prestigious institutions, but also in securing employment and rising up the career ladder. Such forms of discriminatory requirements, though practiced by individuals, are often reinforced by well orchestrated policies and practices of institutions, inarguably constraining opportunities for career advancement among African Americans (Chima & Wharton, 1999, p. 2). Systematic studies have revealed that blacks do not seem to enjoy the same opportunities and possibilities for career promotion and advancement to supervisory, management and highly specialized positions enjoyed by whites of equal or less abilities (Harvey, 2007, p. 67). In this regard, it is imperative to note that “discrimination applies not only to overt discrimination, which requires biased intent, but also to neutral practices, such as tests, which are fair in form but discriminatory in operation” (Ezorsky, 1991, p. 40).

Affirmative action in the American setting was introduced by the federal and regional ordinances to guard against such forms of discriminatory practices against blacks and other minorities (Harvey, 2007, p. 68). According to cross-sectional studies done across the US, there appear to be a correlation between the sudden increase of blacks in institutions of higher learning on the one hand and implementation of affirmative action procedures in these institutions on the other (Gatfield et al, 2009, p. 239). Other studies have revealed considerable economic development among African American households from mid 1990s due to affirmative action programs (Austin, 2008, p.1). But it still remains debatable how affirmative action has influenced the educational and career advancement of African Americans, especially black MBA graduates.

The justification for affirmative action in the MBA program is sorely based on the premise that it has continued to allow African Americans to undertake the course and advance their career in the field even with lesser cut-off points than their counterparts (Ward, 1994, p. 270). Affirmative action is also thought to create superior decision-making processes, increase creativity, and enhance the competitive nature of a business enterprise by the very fact that it encourages diversity at the workplace (Harvey, 2007, p. 62). But it is also debatable how these postulations have affected or influenced the career progression of African American MBA graduates in both historical and success-wide contexts. Any analysis at this stage will definitely be doomed due to the many interpretations offered by scholars and researchers regarding the above presuppositions, with some arguing that race regrettably still matters in American life while others flatly denying that race is still a barrier to educational and career advancement among talented African Americans (Collins, 1989). It is against this backdrop that the influence of affirmative action on the professional and business career of Black American MBA graduates needs to be critically evaluated for purposes of filling the information gap that exist relating to how affirmative action assist black MBA graduates to accomplish the stated objectives. The study specifically sought to fill this information gap.

Significance of the Study

Today, more than ever before, exceptional educational achievement still remains one of the most viable ways of securing a fulfilling career in life across the world (McInerney, 2002, p. 1010). However, harsh memories of subjugation, mistreatment, application of double standards, and selective administration of existing regulations to deny some people a chance to realize their fullest potential professionally and in their business careers are still fresh in the memories of many Black Americans, especially prior to the 1960’s (Ezorsky, 1991, p. 24). While many blacks failed to achieve their fullest potential due to the harsh socio-economic pressure they increasingly found themselves in, many others failed as a direct result of these regulations, which were inarguably lopsided, whimsical, and, in most occasions, inconsiderate to the needs and aspirations of the black community. After the introduction of the affirmative action programs in the late 1960’s, blacks were stupendously filled with expectation that the path towards both didactic and career development had eventually been cleared for them to be at par with their white counterparts (Ezorsky, 1991, p. 42). But while this may be so, data on how affirmative action programs have inarguably lifted the lives of African Americans both in educational and career development remains largely elusive.

Lewis & Rebstock, 2007, p. 32). This study came up with a large body of knowledge on the impact of affirmative action on the professional and business careers of black MBA graduates, thereby filling the above stated void.

There have been continued calls for the disbandment of affirmative action programs in favor of equal opportunity programs (Harvey, 2007, p. 58). Indeed, some states such as California have already legislated against these programs, arguing that they are discriminatory and derogatory both in nature and practice (Kaufman, 2007, p. 3). Critical views on why the African American graduate should receive similar treatment and meet the standard criteria for admission into institutions of learning and business organizations continue to attract wide attention, both in print and electronic media (Kaufman, 2007). Still, others believe that the programs were haphazardly implemented, and therefore failed to underscore what was originally intended. With a bias on the professional and business careers of black MBA students, this particular study also filled the information gap that existed on whether affirmative action offers the blacks and other members of minority groups’ undue advantage over their white counterparts. In addition, the pitfalls and areas that need to be remedied were identified for critical evaluation and review by concerned stakeholders.

Purpose of the study

This particular study intended to undertake a comprehensive cross-sectional analysis on the impact of affirmative action on the professional and business careers of black MBA graduates. The study aimed to achieve this objective by utilizing a wide array of procedures and techniques, including the utilization of correlational procedures to determine causal relationships between affirmative action practices on the one hand and didactic and MBA career advancements of Black Americans on the other. In particular, the study was interested in bringing into light any misconstrued or circumvented notions or perceptions about affirmative action and African American MBA career success, and if affirmative action has a role to play in the modern world in ensuring more blacks gain admittance to prestigious learning institutions and fulfilling careers in the MBA program. Affirmative action programs on educational opportunities are largely viewed by some quarters as self-defeating, incoherent, harmful, and inefficient (Butler, 1998, p. 156).

The study also proposed to critically examine the role played by competitive or elitist learning institutions in equipping the students with adequate knowledge and skills, and the relevancy of such education and skills in securing a lucrative profession. The knowledge that individuals aspiring to have lucrative careers must go a step further to pursue academic certification in a masters or doctorate program is undoubtedly in the public domain (Levine, L. 1996, p. 23). Systematic studies have revealed that affirmative action programs have greatly assisted talented Black Americans to access programs such as MBAs in prominent learning institutions (Butler, 1998, p. 157). According to Cahn (1993), few black students have a choice over the learning institutions they attend and, as such, their educational accomplishment becomes largely dependent on the resources dedicated to them by the state. The resources allocated are a function of the residential area, which, given persistent housing segregation and quality educational institutions, is a function of race. In the light of this, it was the purpose of this study to critically evaluate if the conventional gauges of merit for admissions into elitists schools that guaranteed career posterity are satisfying in measuring purely individual characteristics of talent and determination. By fulfilling the above, the validity and viability of affirmative action in assisting talented black MBA graduates to advance in career aspirations was brought into the fore.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

This particular study was largely concerned with evaluating how affirmative action has influenced the professional and business careers of black MBA graduates. As such, it was directed by the following research questions and subsequent hypotheses

  • Can threats to curtail affirmative action decrease African-Americans opportunities for career advancement and success in business?

Graduating from business schools enhances career opportunities and possibilities for career advancement among African-Americans due to affirmative action

  • Can threats to curtail affirmative action admissions affect the entry of African-Americans into graduate business schools, and destroy their chances of having successful business careers?

African-American chances of entry into business schools will be affected by threats to curtail affirmative action admissions, thereby destroying their chances of having successful business careers.

  • What is the relationship between admissions into competitive or elitist learning institutions and future employment opportunities and possibilities for career advancement for black MBA graduates?

Black Americans graduating from less prestigious business schools are more likely to struggle in the search for career opportunities, advancement, and success than those advantaged by affirmative action to join elitist learning institutions.

Model of the Study

Every research process must be guided by a conceptual or theoretical framework for it to be considered a success (Sekaran, 2006). According to the author, a theoretical framework “…is a conceptual model of how one theorizes and makes logical sense of the relationships among the several factors that have been identified as important to the problem” (p. 87). The basic function of a research model is to map out or outline and discuss the diverse interrelationships existing between the various variables under study. This study proposes to evaluate the impact of affirmative action on the professional and business careers of black MBA graduates. In this juncture, it is important to note that the study was largely correlational, implying that the research largely dealt with identifying causal relationships from the multifaceted variables under study. It is also imperative to note that the survey questions were directed at African-Americans, who had already graduated and were working in their respective business fields.

Based on the purpose of the study and the key research questions, both professional and career opportunities, including possibilities for career advancements among black MBA graduates became the dependent variables. The various factors surrounding the curtailment of affirmative action programs for education and career advancement became the independent variables. These factors include public perception, level or rate of implementation of the ordinances calling for affirmative actions among institutions of higher learning and employers, and government regulations. Public perception is of fundamental importance in deciding whether a particular undertaking will become a success or failure (Koppelman & Rebstock, 2007, p. 1476). In equal measure, the willingness or unwillingness of learning institutions and organizations to implement affirmative action practices impacts directly on the educational chances, career opportunities and possibilities for career advancement among black MBA graduates. Finally, federal and state ordinances regarding affirmative action and their effectiveness are at the center in deciding the present and future career path for black MBA graduates. Based on the above account of variables, a theoretical schema representing possible association of the key factors discussed above is represented below.

Model of the Study
Figure1: Model of the Study

The Role of affirmative Action and the Impact on MBA Graduate

According to Dugan et al (n.d.), “…the value of affirmative action as a social policy has been at the forefront of public and legal debate for decades” (p. 11). Its role, however, can never be underestimated, and its effects on education and career advancement of minority groups cannot be simply wished away. In the US, it is a well known fact that race and race relations have greater influence on career dynamics and possibilities for advancement than education (Arthur et al, 1989, p. 7). According to the individuals, race has always been a predominant predictor of the position that an individual holds in the labor market. Undoubtedly, the race and discrimination issues triggered the introduction of affirmative action in the US with a view of enhancing representation and diversity in both the institutions of learning and workplace environments (Lewis & Rebstock, 2007, p. 35). Discriminatory preferences had engrained themselves in every aspect and spirit of American life. A 1983 study commissioned by the US Bureau of Statistics revealed that only 4.7percent of all top executives, managers and other senior administrators working in the labor market were black, with the bulk of them working in the public sector (Arthur et al, 1989, p. 7). Over three decades later, the racial dynamics seems to have greatly improved judging by the fact that the country’s chief executive – Barrack Obama – is a Black American.

In its tumultuous half-a-century history, affirmative action has been both showered with praises and ridicule as an answer to the issue of racial inequality, especially in terms of accessing equal admissions to learning institutions and equal career opportunities (Brunner, 2007, para. 1). The term was first introduced by President J.F. Kennedy as a strategy to remedy racial discrimination that had endured despite the introduction of civil rights regulations and constitutional guarantees. However, the term was further developed and implemented for the first time by President Lyndon Johnson. But while lauding the strides made by affirmative action programs in ensuring that blacks benefit in gaining admissions to institutions of learning and contemporary workplaces (Fubura et al, 2008, p. 29), systematic studies continue to reveal that blacks are not out of the woods yet. However, important milestones have been achieved so far, with notable ones being the reduction of prejudice and subjugation based on the color of skin, capacity to access new and more rewarding opportunities – both professional and career-wise, and fairness in the workplace. Previously, the black-American community had been condemned to a life of poverty due to lack of opportunities for career advancement (Siegel, 1994, p. 210).

While focusing on the two key study areas – professional and business advancement of blacks -, the designers of affirmative action programs demanded “…that active measures be taken to ensure that blacks and other minorities enjoyed the same opportunities for promotions, salary increases, career advancement, school admissions, scholarships, and financial aid that had been nearly an exclusive province of whites” (Brunner, 2007, para. 2). The program was envisioned as a stop-gap measure that was to be eventually terminated once the ‘level playing field’ was achieved. However, affirmative action lingers on in the US, with experts completely unable to categorically state if the project had been a success or a flop.

According to Lewis & Rebstock (2007), “…because affirmative action has had only modest success in changing the demographics of the higher education workplace, the question naturally arises as to its effectiveness and role in preparing the groundwork for reciprocal empowerment” (p. 27). In the workplace, although affirmative action has offered a significant conduit for hiring employees from minority groups, its impact has been rigorously constricted in important facets of life. According to the authors, most cross-sectional data reveal that the practices has resulted in recruitment increases for white women in higher education rather than for minorities such as blacks with the necessary qualifications. Such a scenario illuminates a wide-ranging disjoint in both the frameworks and procedures used to identify who exactly are minority groups, especially while using socio-economic indicators. A recent ruling by the Supreme Court suggested that, “…in order for an admissions program to permissibly take race into account, it must give each applicant truly individualized consideration” (Koppelman & Rebstock, 2007, p. 1469). However, this appears not to be the case judging by the above presentation of facts.

Role of Affirmative Action on MBA Graduate

The ever evolving and competitive business environment require employees to be mentally and physically prepared, as well as superbly equipped with the right mix of skills, both current and relevant, to be able to effectively handle routine activities (Laseter, 1994, p. 76). Due to the dynamic nature of a business enterprise, it is desirable that specialized skills be ingrained in individuals charged with the responsibility of handling diverse types of environments and business situations (McInerney, 2002, p. 1009). In the US and other parts of the world, these supplementary skills are obtainable from higher education, especially in competitive or elite schools. As organizations become more vibrant and competitive, their workforce needs to harmonize operations and processes, adjusting according to environmental and business demands so as to avoid becoming irrelevant (Jaynes & Williams, 1989, p. 147). The workforce of any organization is its strongest asset. As such, business enterprises needs to make considerable investments in individuals with diverse expertise, and who have the requisite capacity to manage responsibilities effectively and efficiently, producing admirable and acceptable results in the process.

To propel the organization forward in the face of stiff competition and externalities of the macro-environment, the management must seek high academic achievers, preferably alumnae of competitive or elite learning institutions. Graduates from these institutions are more likely to benefit from such job openings, leading to career advancement (Scott, 1995, p. 57). The role of affirmative action on education and career advancement action is illuminated by the insinuation that the programs enabled Black Americans to enjoy the same opportunities for school admissions, educational scholarships, and career advancement (Brunner, 2007, para. 2). Therefore, it is more probable for African American MBA graduates to get job offers since they are absorbed into elite schools with little effort due to affirmative action programs. It is, however, imperative to note that many blacks could be missing the graduate programs if equal opportunity strategy is utilized rather than affirmative action. According to statistics released by Dugan et al (n.d.), black students may not earn the required Graduate Management Admission Test cut-off scores if strict admission procedures and regulations are put in place.

Apart from assisting the black MBA graduates to gain entry into prestigious organizations as management staff, affirmative action has also assisted the black graduates to garner sharp and focused entrepreneurial skills and knowledge that can be used to run businesses of their own. However, several factors come into play as academic skills are not in any way sufficient to ensure the growth and survival of businesses run by black MBA graduates. For instance, the graduates need to have sufficient initial capital as well as a target market for their privately-held business enterprises to blossom (Edgington & Marshall, 2005, p. 1). However, according to the authors, many African-American businesses fail to take off since the main initiators tend to deal with the minority as their target market, leading to blockage by other major players.

Sufficient initial capital also becomes a major headache for African American business professionals by virtue of the fact that majority lack access to adequate financial resources that could otherwise be used to finance their entrepreneur ambitions (Edgington & Marshall, 2005, p. 1). According to Katznelson (2005), it is exceedingly difficult for a black person to secure a loan from a financial institution regardless of academic achievements, level of skills, or both. However, this does not aim to insinuate that there are no successful Black Americans engaged in private entrepreneurial practice. To the contrary, there are thousands of black professionals who have made a mark in both the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds, courtesy of affirmative action programs (Katznelson, 2005, p. 129). But majority of African American entrepreneurs engaged in private practice always find it hard to break even due to limited financial resources (Edgington & Marshall, 2005, p. 1).

Affirmative action practices have been consistently used to help reverse the intensifying inclination towards collapsing of businesses owned and operated by African American MBA graduates by principally ensuring that more blacks are enrolled into the MBA programs (Edgington & Marshall, 2005, p. 2). According to Dugan et al (n.d.), “…to determine whether there is any evidence that affirmative action exists in admission decisions, it is necessary to have information regarding the characteristics of applicants, the characteristics of the graduate management schools to which applications are sent, and the outcome of admission process” (p. 11). A supporting registrant study conducted by the researchers revealed “strong evidence of affirmative action admission policies of graduate management program.” (Dugan et al, n.d., p. 18). Such an observation validates the argument that more Black Americans are graduating every year with MBA programs, and therefore more blacks will continue engaging in entrepreneurship activities to put their learned skills into practice in the white-dominated business arena (Aka, 2009, para. 9).

Apart from increased enrollment levels, affirmative action has assisted African American MBA graduates to access financial packages from lending firms with the view of injecting them to their startup businesses to remain afloat and relevant in today’s competitive environment. Indeed, systematic studies initiated by the U.S. Census Bureau disclosed that African Americans with a master’s educational achievement such as MBA accreditation were more likely to access loans and supporting packages for business startups (USCB, 2002).

The Impact on Affirmative Action on MBA Graduate

Affirmative action has resoundingly impacted the life of typical MBA graduates of African American origin in ways that have greatly assisted them to move away from the doldrums of racial subjugation and intolerance. Not so long ago, admission to some institutions such as the military was viewed as a preserve of the whites. The blacks were perceived as inferiors and people with inadequately predisposed aspects in all major facets of life, including education and career advancement (Ezorsky, 1991, p. 18). While such beliefs were held as the gospel truth by majority of the white-dominated community, it was not hard to draw a correlation between the intolerance of the whites and the perceived ‘backwardness’ of black Americans in a socio-cultural context (Katznelson, 2005 p. 37). According to Ezorsky (1991), individuals are bound to stay in a stagnant mode of growth if no triggers – economic, socio-cultural, educational, and political – are instituted to spur the desired effect.

The above stated way of life of African Americans started to evolve for the better after the introduction of affirmative action in the 1960s’. Its impact has been immense, but perhaps it has been felt the greatest by African American MBA graduates who are now better placed to receive promotions and possibilities for career advancement when compared to other minority groups (Collins, 1989). This trend has been occasioned by affirmative action as organizations must continually hire more Black American MBA graduates to shore up their deficits in line with the affirmative action regulations (pager et al, 2009, p. 5). In general, it is safe to argue that “African American MBA graduates are hence more likely to be promoted than was the case in the early 1990’s” (Roosevelt, 2004, p. 22). In certain situations, however, some institutions hire black professionals just to keep up with set quotas, which specify particular number of duly qualified minority members that must be employed to keep in line with the regulations. This not withstanding, affirmative action has greatly impacted the employment and career advancement opportunities for black MBA graduates.

Away from issues of employment and career advancement, it is indeed true that affirmative action has considerably impacted Black American MBA students in terms of increasing their opportunities for admissions in competitive or elite learning institutions, as well as in other schools. According to Dugan (n.d.), “…it is clear that applications submitted by members of racial/ethnic minorities are considered differently in the admission process …Whether in an attempt to achieve racial diversity or to rectify discriminatory practices, graduate management school appears to give preference to minority applicants” (p. 18). This, according to Ezorsky (1991) is welcome news since more black MBA graduates will become financially stable immediately after leaving college, thus narrowing the inequity gap between the whites and the blacks. Ezorsky (1991) posits that an education of that nature coupled with the skills the graduates will get upon entry into the labor market will guarantee their independence from any further subjugation by the dominant populations.

Another impact of affirmative action on African American MBA graduates comes in terms of loans and other related assistance from financial institutions for purposes of venturing into business. Before the programs were initiated, it was extremely difficult for a black person to access any loans no matter his or her educational achievement and expertise (Ezorsky, 1991, p. 36). But this is no longer the case since the introduction of affirmative action as many more graduates can now access startup capital and advice from major lending institutions across the US. This is a big transformation since it has necessitated the black community, specifically African American MBA graduates, to access loans for business development, and therefore, independence (Ezorsky, 1991, p. 28). Indeed, systematic studies revealed that the number of blacks who had acquired loans for purposes of business development had increased exponentially since 1994 (Butler & Greene, 1997, p. 277). Further a field, “the number of successful entrepreneurial ventures by black MBA graduates had also risen from 1997 to a record high of 66% in 2003” (Edgington & Marshall, 2005, p. 2).

Career opportunities and possibilities for advancement for African American MBA graduates have been boosted further by the introduction of race-neutral employment processes, a progeny of affirmative action. When barriers to school admissions are lifted for purposes of benefiting everyone across board, minorities will be the greatest beneficiaries since they suffered the greatest under the redundant barriers (Mong & Roscigno, 2010, p. 8). Race-neutral enrollment rules in competitive or elite schools will undoubtedly allow a higher rate of African-Americans into particular MBA programs even if some of these individuals may not have attained the requisite academic requirements. This strategy may be used to explain why there are more black MBA graduates at the termination of every academic year in some of the prestigious learning institutions (Eastland, 1996, p. 139). Again, this is a direct impact of affirmative action on the MBA graduate. An increasing number of African American MBA admissions in the elite schools translate into an increase in number of black MBA graduates, and inarguably, an increase in career opportunities and possibilities for advancement as most organizations and institutions seek to employ MBA graduates from elite learning institutions due to their inherent knowledge and skills (Dugan et al, n.d., p. 13).

Definition of Terms

MBA – Masters in Business Administration. It is a prestigious advanced degree conferred to individuals who have successfully graduated from the University’s MBA program. One must first receive a Bachelors degree in a specific area of study before enrolling in a MBA program. A representative MBA program must deal with multifaceted aspects of business such as finance, strategy, management, supply chain, among others (, 2010, para. 1).

Race-Neutral strategies – such strategies entails coming up with laws and regulations expected to curtail discrimination and enhance enforcement procedures. The strategies are carefully worded in an objective, race-neutral language to give protection to everyone though it is expected that minorities will often form the bulk of victims of discrimination (Mong & Roscigno, 2010).

USCB – United State Census Bureau. A public agency charged with the responsibility conducting extensive research and interpretation of data from key sectors and indicators of the economy such as GDP figures, employment, unemployment, population, races, among others.

Affirmative Action – practice of giving special or beneficial treatment to minorities and the disadvantaged. The practice was introduced in the US by J.F. Kennedy, and was later implemented by President Johnson (Ezorsky, 1991).

Affirmative Action Plans – Deliberate strategies by the government to offer preferential treatment to minorities and the disadvantaged. Although such plans are designed by the government, they are expected to be implemented by employers and learning institutions to ensure incorporation of minorities into their systems.


Apart from the challenges of time and financial constraints, this cross-sectional study was unable to get responses from all subjects as a few failed to mail back their completed questionnaires for analysis even after constant reminders. Initially, the researcher had encountered problems of data validity and reliability as some respondents did not take time to comprehend the questions even after reassurances were made to the researcher that all was well. However, this issue was amicably dealt with after the affected respondents readily agreed to revise the questionnaire so that the missing data could be captured to assist in answering the key study questions. Some important data could not be retrieved either as some respondents failed to keep proper documentation about their career progression and available possibilities for advancement in the field. Lastly, this study was limited in scope as it mainly concentrated on a small proportion of black MBA graduates. However, the researcher was confident that the findings could be generalized to wider populations of Black American MBA graduates.


Aka, P.C. (2009). Affirmative action and the black experience in America. Human rights: Journal of the Section of Individual rights & Responsibilities, Vol. 36, Issue 4, pp. 8-10.

Arthur, Michael B., Hall, Douglas T., and Lawrence, Barbara S. (1989). Handbook of Career Theory, (Ed). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Austin, A. (2008). Reversal of fortune. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute.

Barkan, J. (2008). Alive and not well: Affirmative action on campus. Dissent, Vol. 55, Issue 2, pp. 49 – 47. Retrieved March 1 2010 from Ebscohost Database

Brunner, B. (2007). Affirmative action history: A history and timeline of affirmative action. Web. (2010) Masters of Business Administration (MBA). Web.

Butler, J. (1998). An affirmative view. In: R. Post & M. Rogin, eds. Race and Representation: Affirmative Action. New York: Zone books, pp. 155-173

Butler, J.S., & Greene, P.G. (1997). Ethnic entrepreneurship: The continuous rebirth of American Enterprise. Chicago: Upstart Publishing, pp. 276-289

Cahn, S. (1993). Affirmative action and the University. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Chima, F. & Wharton, W. (1999). African Americans and the workplace: Overview of persistent discrimination. Business Journal, vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 2-6

Collins, S.M. (1989). The marginalization of black executives. Social problems, Vol. 36, No. 4

Curtin, M., & Gasman, M. (2003). Historically black college MBA programs: Prestige, rankings, and meanings of success. Journal of Education for business, vol. 79, Issue 2. pp. 79-84. Web.

Dugan, M.K., Baydar, N., Gredy, W.R., & Johnson, T.R. (n.d.). Affirmative action: Does it exist if Graduate Business Skills. Selections, pp. 11-18. Web.

Eastland, T. (1996). Ending affirmative action: The case of colorblind justice. New York: Basic Books, pp. 139-142

Edgington, R., & Marshall, N. (2005). Blacks/African Americans and their entrepreneurship. Los Angeles: GMAC, p. 1-2

Ezorsky, G. (1991). Racism and justice: the case of affirmative action. New York: Cornell University Press. ISBN: 0801499224

Fubara, E. I., McMillan-Capehart, A., & Richard, O. C. (2008). The Role of Organizational Justice and Ethical Frameworks on Attitudes toward Affirmative Action: The Moderating Role of Organizational Support. Journal of Diversity Management, Vol. 3, Issue 3, pp. 29-38

Gatfield, T., Barker, M., & Graham, P. (1999). Measuring student quality variables and the implications for management practices in higher education institutions: An Australian and International student perspective. Journal of Higher Education Policy & Management, Vol. 21, Issue 2, pp. 239

Harvey, D.A. (2007). A Preference for equality: seeking the benefit of diversity outside the educational context. BYU Journal of Public Law, pp. 57-84.

Jaynes, G.D., & Williams, R.M. (1989). A Common destiny: Black and American Society, committee on the status of Black Americans, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. Washington, DC: NAS Press, No. 12-13, pp. 138-148

Katznelson, I. (2005). When affirmative action was white: an untold story of racial of racial inequality in twentieth-century America. New York, NY: W.W. Norton

Kaufman, S.W. (2007). The history and impact of state initiatives to eliminate affirmative action. New Directories for Teaching and Learning, Issue 3, pp. 309.

Koppelman, K., & Rebstock, D. (2007). On affirmative action and “truly individualized consideration.” Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 101, No. 3, pp. 1469-1481

Laseter, R.L. (1994). The labor force participation of young black men: A qualitative examination. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, pp. 72-88

Levine, L. (1996). The opening of the American mind. Boston: Beacon Press

Lewis, M., & Rebstock, D. (2007). Affirmative action and diversity: Partners and Protagonists. ASHE Higher Education Report. Vol. 33, Issue 1, pp. 27-41

McInerney, C. (2002). Knowledge management and the dynamic nature of Knowledge. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 53, Issue 12, pp. 1009-1018 Mong, S., & Roscigno, V. (2010). African American men and their experience of employment discrimination. Qualitative Sociology, Vol. 33, Issue 1, pp. 1-21

Pager, D., Western, B., & Bonikowski, B. (2009). Discrimination in a low-wage labor market: A field experiment. Bonn: Germany, pp. 5

Roosevelt, T. (2004). Diversity management and affirmative action: Past, present and future. Chicago: R. Thomas & Associates Inc, pp. 2-22.

Scott, B. (1995). Human rights is everybody’s business. New York: Friendship Press, pp. 49-63

Siegel, D. (1994). Higher Education and the plight of the black male athlete. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 18(3), 207-223. Web.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2000). Black owned firms: 2002. Web.

Ward, D. (1994). A common business and accounting vocabulary base: Are black students adequately prepared? Journal of Education for Business, Vol. 69, Issue 5, pp. 267 – 272. Web.