Impact Through Service and Social Responsibility

Steve Harvey, dean of American University of Beruit's Olayan School of Business, discusses placing an emphasis on social impact and social responsibility in business education.


Impact Through Service and Responsibility

Dan LeClair: [00:15] You mentioned several times during this discussion the word "impact." I wonder if we could just explore that a little bit more deeply.

[00:20] I know at the Olayan School, at the American University of Beirut, that there's an emphasis on social impact and corporate social responsibility. I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about that emphasis, and what it might mean for the school moving forward?

Steve Harvey: [00:38] Certainly. It would be completely remiss for us to define ourselves in any other way than an institution that is geared towards having social influence in the region, or social impact.

[00:51] Our grander university mission and vision is one of service. It's one of commitment to the community that welcomes us and a community that we have been in for 150 years. The school of business is no different. It's a part and parcel of that belief, that sense of service.

[01:08] What we do, and historically have done, in our areas of research, in our areas of engagement, and in fact, even in our areas of education, is to continue to push the boundaries of ways in which business can have an impact in all kinds of domains, ranging from social democracy, basic recycling programs, good governance, and so forth and so forth.

[01:31] Even dealing with issues that we all know in Lebanon right now are very difficult, such as the refugee crisis and so forth.

[01:42] Whatever the challenges are for our country, in Lebanon, it's extremely important that we take what we have as a business school, the learning, the knowledge that we have, and we transfer that knowledge in the best ways possible, whether it's through research, whether it's through helping NGOs or community organizations or individuals or our students to learn better ways of dealing with the challenges that face them.

[02:05] Quite often, it's our reason of existence, as we believe that good business practices are a way to alleviate some of the tensions and the difficulties that are faced in the communities.

LeClair: [02:17] You were talking to me about the leadership team?

Harvey: [02:18] Yes.

LeClair [02:19] At the Olayan School of Business, how at the moment, since you've arrived and since you've begun to put together the leadership team, that beyond you, they're all female?

Harvey [02:30] The majority of my senior executive team, both at academics and the staff, are female, yes, which in my part of the world is probably not something you would see very frequently. I'll be honest. It's not something I did by design. It's something I did by comfort.

[02:46] By comfort, I meant I selected the individuals that I thought are most competent in helping us realize our goals of service and focus on the community in ways that were important, both our internal community and our external community—that would bring the expertise, the wisdom into thinking of going forward.

LeClair [03:02] That's interesting and great for a lot of reasons, one of which I can imagine that for students, this could play an important role in terms of role models, in terms of expectations about what they can get out of business education and a variety of other things. Congratulations on that as well.

Filmed September 2016 on site at the Annual Accreditation Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.