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December 22, 2008

The Purpose Driven MBA

Catherine New
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Video clip from “Business Ethics in the 21st Century.” Courtesy of WLIW21.

Business leadership has fallen under the microscope in 2008. Part of this scrutiny has been a renewed look at how business schools fit into the leadership landscape. Recent op-ed articles by Dean Glenn Hubbard (“Back to Basics”) and by Professor Ray Fisman (“The Marie Antoinettes of Corporate America”) examine the role of business education and ethical leadership.

Dean Hubbard discusses challenges and solutions for business programs and students. He writes:

Especially since students graduating today find themselves in management positions sooner than was the case in business even just 10 years ago, management education needs to focus on social intelligence and leadership development training. Also, schools must bridge academic theory and current, real-world experience so students can hit the ground running, making immediate contributions to the organizations they join or ventures they launch.

Professor Fisman, co-writing with Rakesh Khurana of Harvard University, supports a broadening of the business education to instill a sense of social purpose in MBAs. They write in their op-ed:

To effect a real change in the outlook of America’s execs, we’ll need to instill in the next generation of business leaders a sense of social purpose and broader understanding of their role as custodians of society’s economic resources, rather than the very limited Friedmanist view that the selfish pursuit of maximizing profits leads to the best of all possible worlds.

Adding another perspective to the conversation is a new documentary, “Business Ethics in the 21st Century,” which premieres tonight on WLIW21 at 7:30 p.m.

Hosted by executive-in-residence Bill Baker (author of Leading with Kindness), the show examines the topic of leadership through the lens of social enterprise. Interviews with industry leaders from Unilever and GE and professors Ray Horton, Bruce Kogut, Geoff Heal, Ray Fisman and Dean Glenn Hubbard examine how CSR, corporate governance and executive compensation play a role in leadership ethics.

“At the end of the day, it’s not enough to turn a profit,” says Baker. “There’s a clear indication that to be successful, we must bring good business and character traits to the marketplace.”

“Business Ethics in the 21st Century” airs on WLIW21 on Monday, December 22 at 7:30 p.m. and on THIRTEEN on Saturday, December 27 at 9:30 a.m.