This is a question asked by many when considering the role b-schools play in the global financial crisis. B-schools all over the US and Europe are being criticized for focusing too much on making money and not focusing enough on, what the Financial Times UK refers to as “social considerations.” Another criticism stated in the recent FT article is that students are not being taught enough about social and economic accountability.
Fortunately, assuming the FT is correct in its allegations, top MBA programs are addressing these criticisms and are cleaning up their acts. B-schools are tweaking their curriculums—with some changes as major as adding new classes—to transmit to their students lessons of the financial crisis. Classes on ethics and the history of financial crises are some of the new offerings at now conscientious b-schools.
Jake Cohen, dean of the MBA program at Insead explains how the economic crisis is achieving a goal otherwise overlooked in the past: the bridging of private and public sectors. Teaching MBA students about the impact of the public sector and its relationship with the private sector is now an integral learning point for current MBAs.
Harvard Business School is an example of an institution that is taking specific measures to educate its MBA students about the impact of the financial crisis. HBS has added new courses, including “The Evolution of the US Financial System” and “Managing the Modern Financial Firm.” Risk management, until now, has been a relatively undervalued focus in an MBA course of study.
Anderson School of Management at UCLA is also making significant changes to its syllabi. A first-year finance class that used to focus on stocks and bonds now includes discussions on credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, and mortgage-backed securities.
Kenan Flagler’s Dean James Dean is taking a more conservative approach. He explains:
“We don’t want to make knee-jerk changes, we want to be thoughtful about it. It would be a bad mistake to throw out some of the fundamentals for something that looks important now but will not be as important three or four years from now.”
I think we can all agree with Dean in hoping that these crisis-related objectives will be irrelevant in a few years.
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