Economist reports that an increasing number of US business schools have instituted an oath, sworn by their freshly minted MBA-s before them being launched into the wide and wild world of international finance and pledging to play a “positive role in society”.
Having spent about 15 years in the investment banking industry (broadly defined), you will have to excuse me for not letting out a sigh of relief over the issue of immoral markets and predatory capitalism with its inherent culture of greed henceforth being solved. As anyone who has so much as met a true-blood investment banker can readily attest, playing a positive role in society is not something that would rank very high in the collective agenda of the profession. Their motivation for getting out of the bed in the morning tends to be something completely different and will probably remain so in the future. If someone wants to make their mark in terms of improving the collective lot of the humankind, MBA is an unlikely education choice, and to make your graduates swear a solemn oath to that end is not going to magically change this.
However, the changes in curriculum that have been reported over the last couple of years by several top-tier business schools are perhaps much more interesting and, in the long run, could potentially have a real impact. Scrapping core subjects such as marketing or strategy in favor of problem framing, innovation or business and society might in fact be little else than rearranging the deck chairs — but if this ends up as a genuine shift away from telling people what the world is like towards teaching them how to conceptualize it in a different ways, then this may well prove to have a real impact. The MBA programs have been increasingly criticized both for being irrelevant as well as producing look-and-think-alike zombies — it remains to be seen if those changes will be perceived as an improvement on either of those accounts.