July 5, 2006

China’s MBA monks mix business with prayer

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The first group of monks in China to complete an MBA course have begun reflecting on their achievements, state media said on Wednesday.

Shanghai's Jade Buddha Temple commissioned Jiaotong University to design a degree focusing on monastery management, to help its monks mix business with prayer.

The monks proved to be better students than their lay brethren, five of whom failed to get the degree due to excessive absence from class or failure to submit essays, the China Daily said.

"Jade Buddha Monastery needs management just like a company," Chang Chun, the temple's general manager and a newly minted MBA-holder, was quoted as saying.

In addition to regular business administration courses, the monks' curriculum included lectures on temple management, philosophy and religious product marketing. Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" was on the reading list.

"There is nothing surprising" about monks with MBAs, said Mr. Gao, a PhD student in economics also from Jiaotong.

"Monks also have professional divisions: some focus on praying and chanting, while these people concentrate on business."

The Jade Buddha Temple, which has 15 monks taking foreign language courses at the Shanghai International Studies University, plans to send a second batch of monks to start their MBA studies next week.