Socially responsible MBAs

Did business schools cause the economic crisis? Some commentators think so.

The Economist was bewailing the end of the MBA as early as last November (2009) and they weren’t the first. Let’s face it, who can doubt that the recession has left business schools looking glumly at themselves, wondering if they could have done anything about getting the CSR message rammed home for their MBA graduates earlier or more forcefully. Rouen Business School in France today announced a restructuring of the MBA course by “reorganising its research around four themes that address social responsibility.  The school aims to produce research that will advance these important areas and help form the next generation of leaders.” Perhaps the smaller schools are more flexible, more mobile, better equipped to reorganise to face certain challenges than the unwieldy brutes in the uppermost tier of business education?

Does it really matter anyway, are business schools being too self-critical? As Jenny George, Dean of Australis’s well-regarded Melbourne Business School said to me recently, “Blaming business schools for the recession is as futile as saying that humans are responsible for it.”

We’re all looking for someone to blame. Sometimes the laser falls on the right people. Paul Danos, Dean of Tuck Business School in New Hampshire, told me that he accepts that in a small number of cases this is true. The people behind the companies behind the recession, well a few of them had MBAs.

But do you stop teaching engineering just because someone invented the atom bomb?

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