Spotlight On: Social Intrapreneurship at UM Ross

While courses in social entrepreneurship have appeared on b-school curricula for some time now, UM Ross School of Business is charting new territory with a unique course in Social Intrapreneurship launched this past winter term. After talking with students and alumni, Michigan Ross professor Jerry Davis and Chris White, MBA ’11 decided to design a class for those who want to change the world but don’t yet have the capital to launch a startup.

“People want to know how they can make a positive difference in the world within a mainstream corporate job. Jerry and I designed the class with those people in mind,” says White in this profile highlighted on the UM Ross website.

Although the Ross School and the University of Michigan already had several things happening in the social intrapraneurship space, Davis says nothing tied them together. “The class gives students one portal for understanding all the opportunities here that are related to socially conscious business.”

“We looked around but couldn’t find anyone else teaching this subject,” Davis adds, although he’s quick to point out that he and White don’t want to be the only ones working in this area. “Our goal wasn’t to create this and then put a fence around it,” says Davis. “We want to make it readily available to others.”

The course description notes that getting a major initiative to succeed in big organizations is much like leading a social movement. It takes being able to read the opportunity structure; locating allies inside and outside the organization; mobilizing a team using available technologies; and framing the initiative in a way that motivates decision makers and makes the business case.

“We get the Ayn Rand fans and the Ron Paul people and the Green Party voters in the same room, which makes a richer educational experience,” says Davis, who is pleased with the diversity of the students who have taken class. “We want Michigan to be the destination of choice for socially conscious MBA students, no matter what angle they’re coming from.”

To learn more about how UM Ross’s course Social Intrapreneurship: Leading Social Innovation in Organizations is changing MBA education, click here.

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