Business schools are teaching ethics and corporate social responsibility, but they do not teach these subjects in the context of building a higher-ambition or a high commitment, high performance firm. Students learn about finance and organizational behavior, for example, without ever learning how to integrate these and many other disciplines (marketing, operations, etc.) into a coherent, internally consistent set of practices that collectively reinforce a higher- ambition mission. If financial considerations require cost cutting, what should be the stance of the company toward layoffs if management also aspires to develop commitment from employees? If the company strategy calls for rapid growth, can this be done without diluting the higher-ambition culture? If you are trying to develop such a culture, rapid growth makes it harder to find people who fit the culture and possess the capabilities needed. And business schools… do not ask students to reflect on their values and define who they are and then help them see how these values relate to decisions they make about strategy, performance measurement, growth, and so on.
In short, business schools… do not teach integrity. By integrity we mean learning about (1) how different disciplines must be integrated with each other and higher-ambition purpose and values, and (2) how students’ espoused higher-ambition values are reflected in decisions and actions they recommend should be taken in marketing, strategy, and finance. What business schools need is a course that teaches students how to think and act to build a higher-ambition firm.
Author: Michael Beer
Source: Harvard Business School (HBS) Working Knowledge
Subjects: Integrity, MBA Related