New Course Teaches MBAs How To Deliver Bad News

The Anti-Capitalist MBA Curriculum is Here

70% of Americans believe it’s important for companies to make the world a better place, compared to just 37% who believe it’s most important for a company to make money for shareholders. That’s an important difference to note. While profit is still king in the business world, business schools are slowly but surely starting to rethink how they teach capitalism and the role that business plays in today’s society.

The New York Times recently examined how business school curricula is changing—and how the new generation of students, plus faculty, are pushing for that change.

“We’re at Harvard Business School — it’s a bastion of capitalism,” Ethan Rouen, who teaches the Harvard class “Reimagining Capitalism,” says. “I will say, though, that if you look at the courses being offered, the institutes being created and speakers we bring on campus, there is a huge demand both from the faculty and the students for rethinking the obligation of the corporation to society.”

It’s a demand that many students and faculty are calling for: a rethinking of capitalism and how businesses operate within society.

“There’s a conscious shift happening with professors wanting us to question: Is profit the only thing corporations should care about? How should businesses use their influence?”, says Chinedum Egbosimba, who studied engineering and then worked at Bain & Company before winding up at Harvard Business School.

But it’s not just Harvard that’s incorporating such ideas into its curriculum. At Wharton, students can take a class called “Responsibility in Business,” where they examine the legal, public policy, and ethical considerations of business. Wharton will officially start offering MBA majors in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and in Environmental, Social and Governance Factors for Business next fall.

“Five years ago I never would have considered this a core part of business school,” Yuta Kato, a student of the class, says. “It’s just as important to learn how to think about ethical problem-solving as it is to learn about strategic problem-solving.”

IT’S ECONOMICS

Business school leaders say that their new courses and concentrations are simply an answer to the demand for political conversations in the corporate world. In other words, business schools aren’t purposely pushing a progressive view, it’s just business.

“It’s not because we’re woke. It’s not because we’re driving an ideological agenda,” Witold Henisz, Wharton’s vice dean and faculty head of the E.S.G. initiative, says. “It’s because it’s economics.”

Economics or not, it’s safe to say that there’s a new expectation of business’s role in society—and it’s something that today’s B-school students are faced with understanding.

“The classic school of thinking that businesses should only make money is very much alive,” Egbosimba, the Harvard student, says. “But many of my classmates look at the world we have today and say, ‘Yeah, there’s clearly some things about this system we need to fix.’”

Sources: The New York Times, Harvard Business School

Next Page: Cornell Johnson MBA Essay Tips

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.