Do Business Schools Have a Responsibility?

At a joint Society for Business Ethics and Academy of Management Social Issues in Management event, Olsson Center Senior Fellow and Ross School of Business Professor James P. Walsh gave a speech titled “What is Progress?” In it he compared advances in marathon running to advances in business education and asked the audience of professors to reflect on what they do.

James P. Walsh

James P. Walsh

During the question and answer period, Olsson Center Senior Fellow R. Edward Freeman, who is currently collaborating with Walsh, asked from the floor, “What is the role of business schools?”

Walsh said that professors have “a sacred trust in society” to prepare future business leaders and that teaching business requires responsibility. He implored those business professors to ask themselves what really matters and “how do you keep hope alive” amidst the daily barrage of ethics scandals. Echoing Freeman, Walsh said, “We need a counter narrative [about business] out there.”

While the theme of this year’s Academy of Management conference was “The Power of Words,” Walsh and Freeman are actively thinking about the power and future of business school education. They and many others like them realize their responsibility in developing the next generation of business leaders and how they can positively contribute to society.

If you are a student, practitioner, customer or other stakeholder, how are you changing the story about business in a positive direction?

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