Embedding Corporate Responsibility in the MBA Curriculum
Businesses around the world are struggling to embed Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability. Management and business schools face similar challenges. For most schools, the MBA programme has become one of their core offerings.
How far Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability is integrated through the MBA becomes an indicator of progress on broader embedding. Indeed, the biennial “Beyond Grey Pinstripes” ranking of business schools internationally, focuses particularly on the MBA for this reason. At Cranfield there has been an openness to explore how to introduce Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability and a willingness to experiment.
Some of the proactive steps we are taking are described on the Cranfield website. Like many other schools, however, we also face competing pressures on the timetable; lively debates on whether CR yet has robust enough research, underpinning theory and an a greed corpus of knowledge; and how to make it interesting and relevant to students from across the world, who come from many different cultures, political systems and varieties of capitalism. We certainly have not yet found the answers! We know from participating in some of the many networks which now exist to encourage more research and teaching of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, such as the European Academy for Business in Society (EABIS),3 Global Responsible Leadership Institute4, the Aspen Institute’s Centre for Business Education curriculum development initiative, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s Global Education and Research Network, and the UN Global Compact’s Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME), that colleagues around the world are grappling with similar issues. As the Financial Times management writer, Morgen Witzel told the Doughty Centre this summer:
“As a historian of management, I have seen too many very good, even brilliant ideas wither on the vine because few people in management have the courage to take them up. My fear is that sustainability will be the next case of this phenomenon. But it does seem that this might be one area where business schools cannot only help make the case, but can add value for, and to, graduates who take the sustainability message to heart.”
Chris Marsden is a teacher and reflective practitioner of CR of many years’ standing. Chris and I first started to debate the issues of how to get CR into business schools, when we organised a weekend seminar on the topic, at the BP Management Centre back in November 1995. Chris subsequently setup the Centre for Corporate Citizenship at Warwick University on secondment from BP. He continues to teach well-received classes in CR and ethics at several business schools–including now at Cranfield. He has been an enthusiastic supporter of EABIS since its inception. Chris has been a visiting fellow and wise counsellor at the Doughty Centre since we began. At the outset of the Doughty Centre, we asked Chris to look at how to integrate CR into the MBA curriculum. His original report in June 2007 has been our road-map ever since. Knowing though the continuing debate which Cranfield and many other schools face, we decided to share an abridged version of the original Chris Mars den paper with a wider audience. The paper focuses on the formal curriculum. There is, of course, a range of further ways that CR can be incorporated into the MBA experience, such as through:
We are trying to do all this at Cranfield. We are publishing this paper in a spirit of honest inquiry, and in order to contribute to an “open source” development to ideas. To repeat–we don’t have all the answers. Others are much further down the road. We have not “cracked it” at Cranfield–but like many other institutions, we know we have to. As with all our Centre publications, we welcome feedback–and we hope its pure debate –and action!
David Grayson–Director The Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility–September 2008