Rakesh Khurana, Nitin Nohria, and Daniel Penrice

One way of looking at the problem with American management today is that it has succeeded in assuming many of the appearances and privileges of professionalism while evading the attendant constraints and responsibilities. Although it is now fashionable in some quarters to denigrate professionals as elites enjoying shelter from the rough-and-tumble of the marketplace, do we as a society really wish to surrender the benefits that we rightfully demand of professionals in return? And given the inevitable existence of elite knowledge workers, such as managers, in complex modem societies, ought we not to be concerned with producing elites who are motivated by something beyond the pursuit of self-interest under the laws of the marketplace, or the fear of punishment under the laws of the land? A self-interested, self-indulgent corporate leadership is not inevitable, and a model for something better lies at hand. We can find it in the flawed but durable institutions that serve society by meriting the label “profession.”

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