Hippocratic Oath for Green Business Leaders – Beyond Ghettoized MBA Curriculums

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queens4.jpgTo prepare bright eyed, bushy tailed young managers and indeed, young enterpreneurs eco or not, for the challenges that the business world has laid out for them, dramatic shifts in their education and training – as well as a new Hippocratic Oath will be necessary, say Rakesh Khurana and Nitin Nohria of Harvard’s Business School.

Bryan Gallagher already brought up the need to seriously shake up the undergraduate silos system to keep up with business reality and demand for corporate environmental and social responsibility (CESR) leaders.

Khurana and Nohria want it to happen at the MBA level.

They vie for business school CESR embedded — not ghettoized from the rest of the curriculum — courses that go beyond the old school market logic that dominates so many MBA curriculums. They also support the need to get rid of the misleading idea that management is to practice slavish devotion to the needs of its shareholders.

“Management, in other words, will have to become more like the learned professions of medicine and law. Professions such as these are, at least in theory, characterized by an orientation to serving society–and they have something the profession of management does not have–a normative code or oath that encourages leaders to consider the broader implications of their actions.”

Yes, this sounds like the “been there, done that” of corporate codes of ethics at many organizations but no: Khurana and Nohria are calling for a global golden rule law that is as unassailable as a doctor’s oath is to a patient.

No it won’t be easy and executives will drag their feet until of course, some element of fear hits home.

“Perhaps the frightening and complex issue of climate change will serve as a wake up call for managers and business educators, spurring them to create their own code of conduct,” suggest Khurana and Nohria.

About the Author

Olga Orda is Associate Vice President at FD Element. With offices in Washington, D.C., Vancouver and New York, FD Element is a leading advertising agency focused on sustainability and corporate responsibility communications, public affairs and advocacy.