In an attempt to retreat From the job market overcoming the recession, more and more students are applying for MBA programs since 2008. This is bad news for many critics who allege that it was the graduates of these MBA programs who helped create the recession in the first place. Mortgage lending to credit-poor borrowers and betting on a fixed-to-pop housing bubble may have paid off in the years leading up to the financial crisis – and raised the stock prices of many firms run by people with MBAs – But they ended up damaging the economy on a large scale and losing the strategy for those firms.
Indeed, if you want proof that there is a problem in vocational education today, “the financial crisis exhibit is A,” says Judith Samuelsson, executive director of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program. The allegations against vocational schools are numerous, but a major criticism is that teachers largely focus on short-term profits rather than the long-term consequences of professional decisions. “There’s a perception in a lot of business schools — just do your job, pursue your selfishness, and everything works,” says Tim Forte, a Lindner-Gumble professor of business ethics. George Washington University School of Business.
Recognizing that they are now under a microscope, many business schools are reevaluating the importance of various methods of professional ethics and teaching ethics. “In some schools, you can be laughed at for raising ethical issues in a finance class. I don’t think that’s the case now,” Forte says. As schools combine classrooms that provide guidance on dealing with morally ambiguous scenarios or introduce an ethical sidebar to issues taught in other classrooms, they are expected to be based on programs expected in vocational school, such as environmentalism Are also beginning to include.
By no means does everyone agree that lack of morality contributes to the financial crisis. Richard Shreeve, assistant professor of business ethics at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, says, “We will stay in this soup even when everyone can behave from homebuyer to investment bank to rating agency.” Many of the MBA graduates who placed bets with credit default swaps were simply unaware of the full results and not the negligence. And there were many other contributing factors to the housing bubble that were out of the hands of most businessmen, such as the expansionary policies of the Federal Reserve.
The Association of Advanced Collegiate Schools of Business, one of the premier professional program accrediting organizations, never requires business ethics as part of the school’s curriculum. Many schools, such as George Washington, have made it a necessity anyway. Professional teaching ethics in the classroom is not sufficient for fundamental change, says Samuelson of the Aspen Institute. “If that is the only place where you raise questions about social and environmental impacts, the message you send to students is similar to philanthropy.” “This is something when you are not focusing on your business.” It actually takes an overhaul of the curriculum to change students’ mind-sets, Samuelson argues. Graduate School of Business at Stanford UniversityFor example, new courses have been developed that address disputes when practitioners deal with different cultures, such as Google’s policy for Chinese censorship.
Moral development. This recession was not the first event to change attitudes about business ethics. When Shreeva started teaching ethics at Tuck in 1992, he had a philosophy that he was not meant to change hearts and minds and turn immoral students into ethical business leaders. Instead, their goal was to inform students of the ethical dilemmas they may face in their careers. But as a result of the 2001 Enron scandal a backlash against business schools led him to modify this approach. “The image in the popular press is that vocational schools are taking very bright, ambitious young men and women, teaching them sophisticated techniques, and turning them loose, armed and dangerous. But it has occurred to me, if We are not careful. We can do that, “says Shreeve. The school created opportunities for students to come into contact with values they might not find in their classes.
For example, during orientation week, the school sends all 250 first-year students to work with nonprofits in the community for a day. “You work in a soup kitchen, and it changes you,” Shreeve says.
Tuck has also added the “Global Mind-Set” as a criterion for its admission policy. “To be an effective leader in today’s world, we think you need to understand other cultures,” says Dawana Clarke, director of admissions at Tuck.
Perhaps more important than the change in attitudes of administration and faculty are changes in students’ attitudes. Just as the recession has led many to consider it as an alternative to traditional finance careers, there have been changes in student interests. Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. “You’re looking at students with an investment banking background or tech background who want to improve their business skills but make a social impact,” says Matthew Nash, managing director of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Fuka. One program, the Global Consulting Practicum, matches students seeking to consult with organizations around the world in need of help. One such visit sent Fuxa students to Hope Factory in Johannesburg, a nonprofit that works with unemployed South Africans.
While helping students gain new experiences outside the classroom, GW Fort argues that having different perspectives inside the classroom is equally important. He recalls an ethics class where students were discussing a real-life case in which a cookie maker had a bad product batch that was potentially harmful to consumers’ health. The company had the opportunity to relieve cookies and recover some of the losses by selling to a convenience store in the inner city. “Business students used to say, ‘As long as it’s free choice and full disclosure, it’s fine,'” says Forte. But a non-MBA student who worked in the inner city as a social worker sat in class. ” ‘how dare you?’ She said, “misses Fort. Because business schools are often prepared to spend resources on students who are not pursuing an MBA, “finding someone in your class to provide jaw-dropping commentary is very difficult,” he says.
So Forte has found other ways to introduce morality in unexpected places. In the last three years, he has started making videos for use in nonethics classes. The video shows Forte talking about the moral implications of students’ learning in other subjects.
Fort argues that teaching ethics in business is not about telling students that profits are bad. Instead, he tries to appeal to his students to make money by emphasizing the desire that moral prestige is often the most reliable tool for commercial success. As Forte says: “In the long term, morality pays.”