MBAs Now More Concerned With Ethics

The financial crash has made business schools more concerned about ethical behavior, new research suggests, and programs can no longer be  accused of turning out MBA graduates focused solely on shareholder value.

Michael Prest‘s piece in The Independent examines the trend based on a report published last week by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) and Durham Business School on how alumni and business schools see the curriculum and what improvements may be necessary.

The report, The Post Downturn MBA: an agenda for change, does not make comfortable reading for either alumni or the schools, Prest writes, as the findings show significant divergences in perception of the MBA between alumni and the schools.

Three areas whose importance has grown as a result of the crisis ”“ sustainability, corporate social responsibility and business ethics ”“ are more highly ranked by schools than by alumni. Transferable skills ”“ so-called “soft skills” such as communication or presentation ”“ show a similar difference.

Alumni and schools both put the ability to manage change at the top of the list. But after that, alumni rank communication and leadership as most valuable while the schools think the ability to deal with ambiguity ”“ what the real issue is in a problem ”“ and teamwork are the most valuable. Oddly given recent events, stress management comes bottom of the list.

On the Reflections on Ethical Business blog, Tony Webb suspects that it can take many years for academic curriculae to catch up with society, adding that the rate of change has certainly ramped up in recent years. “…ethics in MBA teaching may become a competitive issue for them as well as a moral one, if demand is really this high,” says Webb.

For a closer analysis of the Post Downturn MBA report, you can read articles on the subject here and here.

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