Evolving Expectations of Management Education

Addressing a Broader Range of Problems


Expectations to address a broader range of problems, not just “business problems."

Challenging global society to do better, the World Bank Group “aims to advance a new set of development approaches based on a fuller consideration of the psychological and social influences.” The 2015 version of the flagship development report titled Mind, Society, and Behavior “captures the idea that paying attention to how humans think (the processes of the mind) and how history and context shape thinking (the influence of society) can improve the design and implementation of development policies and interventions that target human choice and action.” According to the authors, “these approaches are already widespread among firms in the private sector.” This example illustrates the growing recognition that knowledge and experience gained through business education and experience can and ought to be applied to solve a broader range of social problems.

Many business leaders are similarly recognizing that clearly articulating a social purpose for an organization, rather than defaulting to maximizing shareholder wealth, enables better performance. Fundamental questions are being raised about the role of management vis-à-vis society and about the principles on which management education have been built. Some people believe these developments are returning big business to its roots, since the concept of limited liability was introduced to support the pursuit of public purpose. Changing views are not only impacting big business, but more and more people are starting to view entrepreneurship as a powerful framework to pursue social missions.

Perceptions within the academic community have moved in similar directions. Roger Martin, former dean at the Rotman School, argued in the Business Education Jam that business school faculty have been addressing the wrong problems in their research—that their narrow focus on business problems has limited the creativity and impact of business school research. Wharton’s Geoff Garrett believes we are entering a new phase of the “expanding public role of the private sector,” arguing that “empowering the private sector was the best way to enrich society.”

Many of these views are reflected in the comprehensive 50+20 vision and its agenda, “Management Education for the World.” 50+20 asks critical questions about the state of the world, the emerging societal issues, the dominant economic logic, the purpose of business, the crucial role of leadership, and the challenges facing management education.

Related Resources

A Systematic Approach to Coping with Challenges
Systematic Approach to Coping with Challenges
Kai Peters, dean of Ashridge Business School, shares the school's systematic approach to anticipating the future of work, one that looks at the big trends occurring in management education and the needs they create, the skills that are required, and what such developments mean to management education.

Business and Society: A Flourishing Marriage, eNEWSLINE
Reflections from the Third Global Forum for Business as An Agent of World Benefit

Reimagining Business Education: A World of Ideas, Business Education Jam
“I’m deep into a study of the impact a 100-year life will have on work and corporations. What is clear is that people will have to learn and change their specializations more than once in order to maintain their edge. Yet most people front-load their education and very few companies really give people time in their later career to relearn and renew.” – Lynda Gratton, PhD Professor of Management Practice, London Business School, Founder of The Hot Spots Movement.

Combing Profit and Purpose: A New Dialogue on the Role of Business in Society
Explores the opinions of the business world on the social purpose of business - incorporating the views of both current CEOs of major European businesses and those we expect to be the future leaders of our businesses.

World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior, The World Bank
Aims to integrate recent findings on the psychological and social underpinnings of behavior to make them available for more systematic use by both researchers and practitioners in development communities.

Restoring the Public Role of the Private Sector
Geoffrey Garret, dean at The Wharton School, shares in a post on LinkedIn his thoughts on why the private sector must step in to address public issues.

The 50+20 Agenda and Vision
50+20, developed in part by the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative, is not an organization but a vision and movement that seeks to learn of new ways and opportunities for management education to transform and reinvent itself.

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