MBA Students – Is it Laziness or Exhausted Self-Control

Many MBA faculty members think that MBA students are lazy. Why do they think this? Well, perhaps it is because some MBA students come to class without completing homework assignments, without reading assigned articles and book chapters, and when in class they are not active participants in discussions. Since most of my experience is with part time MBA students and Executive MBA students, I attributed this type of behavior to work-life balance issues. Now there may be another answer, exhausted self-control.

Dan Heath writes about exhausted self-control in a Fast Company article titled, “Why Change Is So Hard: Self-Control Is Exhaustible.”

Here is an excerpt:

You hear something a lot about change: People won’t change because they’re too lazy. Well, I’m here to stick up for the lazy people. In fact, I want to argue that what looks like laziness is actually exhaustion. The proof comes from a psychology study that is absolutely fascinating.”

While his article’s focus is on behavioral change in general, I think the theory of “exhausted self-control” he describes may apply to MBA students. Read the article and see if you agree with the following:

  • Part-time and Executive MBA students spend their work day exercising self-control completing employer related work
  • Part-time and Executive MBA students spend part of their day and evening exercising self-control meeting home or social responsibilities
  • When it comes time for MBA students to complete their MBA assignments during evenings or weekends, they have run out of self-control
  • Without a reserve of self-control, MBA homework assignments may not get done

What do you think? Are some MBA students just lazy? On the other hand, are MBA students trying to manage work-life balance issues and in doing so have exhausted their reserve of self-control? Share your thoughts by adding a comment below.


Rodney G. Alsup, D.B.A., CPA, CITP
Founder of

[Image by FreeDigitalPhotos.Net member graur razvan ionut/In accordance with terms of use]

4 comments for “MBA Students – Is it Laziness or Exhausted Self-Control

  1. john dendy
    July 1, 2011 at 11:12 am

    No sympathy here. Whether the inattentive/underperforming student is lazy or tired, he is not up to the challenge and should flunk out or drop out (perhaps to try again when the job/home situation allows).

  2. bob
    March 18, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    nope…mba students are just lazy. they have enough energy to shirk responsibilities and throw out buzzwords during class. the problem is that most mba curriculums rate professor performance based on student reviews – and students don’t rate professors well when they aren’t getting a’s. this leads to a slow but inevitable corrosion of standards – and mba students only get lazier for it.

    • June 3, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      There is an erosion of standards, grade inflation, and playing to the end of program evaluations. I think MBA students may sometimes do what they can get by with or whatever professors will allow to happen. Perhaps this is a shared responsibility that faculty and students should assume. I am not sure how this will play out over the next few years.
      Thanks for taking the time to read the article and making a comment.

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