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About the Course

BA411 is the only capstone course at the Smeal College of Business. It is mandatory for all business seniors at Smeal, regardless of major, and is designed to provide an integration of relevant business studies. A short paragraph from the current syllabus is perhaps the best way to give you a sense for the purpose of BA411.

The fable of four blindfolded men describing an elephant was once widely told. Each man touched only one or the other part of the beast and proceeded to describe an elephant. Not surprisingly, one said an elephant was like a snake, apparently he had only felt its tail; the other insisted the beast was as a tree-trunk and so on. As the discussion escalated to debate and then rose to vehement disagreement, none realized that it was his enforced blindness which caused all that heat without light. Analogously, over your undergraduate studies in business each of you has concentrated on one or another functional subject such as accounting or marketing. A narrow focus does foster expertise. But it can also lead to a blinkered vision. The marketing major thinks that selling is the most important function of business while the accountant insists that profit calculations are all that really matter. Each protects the disciplinary silos she was trained to inhabit. Yet, in practice, a successful business enterprise depends on the harmonious interplay between all its parts and functions. The accountant has nothing to calculate if the marketer cannot sell the product just as the latter may as well be spinning her wheels if she does not know whether she is selling at a profit or not. Therefore, all business majors ought to cultivate an interdisciplinary understanding of business.