Response to: The Trouble With Business School: MBA Programs Should Teach Sustainable Capitalism

Monday, October 18, 2021
Business schools are making significant progress in developing leaders who will make a positive impact on society.

Dear Editor,

It’s true – the world is facing significant challenges that require ethical, compassionate, fiscally responsible leaders who are driven to apply business acumen for positive impact. To prepare these leaders, business schools should teach sustainable capitalism. But they aren’t as far behind the curve as Jacqueline Novogratz’s recent article, The Trouble With Business School: M.B.A. Programs Should Teach Sustainable Capitalism claims them to be.

The article focuses on MBA programs, but business education programs at all levels – undergraduate, graduate, specialized master's, and doctoral should address societal issues throughout their curriculum – and AACSB-accredited schools are doing just that. Novogratz points out that, “Business schools are tinkering around the edges, relegating ideas about social change and moral choice to the margins through optional electives rather than required courses,” yet as schools align to AACSB’s 2020 business accreditation standards, they are addressing – and exemplifying – their impact on society through strategic planning, curriculum, research, and internal and external activities aligned with their unique missions. Through their missions, more than 900 AACSB-accredited business schools are indeed addressing the global issues Novogratz cites, including climate change, the pandemic, healthcare, and food security, by collaborating across the university, and within the business community.

AACSB joins Novogratz in the call for greater balance within business school classrooms and faculty ranks. Young leaders are looking to professors and business professionals alike in the hopes of “seeing” themselves at the head of the classroom or board room someday, and the education pipeline is the impetus of that change. Progress has been made, and according to AACSB research, in the last ten years representation of underrepresented ethnic groups has increased at least eight percent among enrolled learners and seven percent among faculty. Organizations like The PhD Project has also made great strides in developing the diversity of the faculty pipeline, and AACSB is proud to support them as a founding member.

Through the 2020 business accreditation standards, AACSB has further elevated the crucial role of diversity and inclusion in business schools, recognizing that preparing leaders who respect and embrace differences will make the strongest impact on society. The standards empower schools to view diversity through a global lens and implement plans that address faculty and staff recruitment and development, curriculum, teaching effectiveness, and learner preparedness within their own unique cultural context.

It’s true – business programs have a responsibility not only to teach the fundamentals of business for financial stability, but to inspire and instill a sense of purpose in its learners to apply their education for the betterment of society. I call on all our leaders and partners – at business schools, in higher education, and in the boardrooms of every business around the world to ask themselves: Are our efforts making a positive impact? Together we can recalibrate and collaborate to impart real change on the issues that matter most.

Caryn Beck-Dudley
President and CEO
AACSB International