May 30, 2009

The Harvard MBA Oath

This looks like the best pledge I've seen thus far. As I suspected, Rakesh Khurana (and Nitin Nohria) had a hand in getting it going. Unlike other common business school oaths or pledges, this one goes beyond mentioning negative duties against causing harm, embracing positive duties to create social value--as you can see in these highlights from the longer version:
  • I will understand and uphold, both in letter and in spirit, the laws and contracts governing my own conduct and that of my enterprise. If I find laws that are unjust, antiquated, or unhelpful I will not brazenly break, ignore or avoid them; I will seek civil and acceptable means of reforming them.
  • I will take responsibility for my actions, and I will represent the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly. My aim will not be to distort the truth, but to transparently explain it and help people understand how decisions that affect them are made.
  • I will develop both myself and other managers under my supervision so that the profession continues to grow and contribute to the well-being of society. I will consult colleagues and others who can help inform my judgment and will continually invest in staying abreast of the evolving knowledge in the field, always remaining open to innovation. I will mentor and look after the education of the next generation of leaders.
  • I will strive to create sustainable economic, social, and environmental prosperity worldwide. Sustainable prosperity is created when the enterprise produces an output in the long run that is greater than the opportunity cost of all the inputs it consumes.
  • I will be accountable to my peers and they will be accountable to me for living by this oath. I recognize that my stature and privileges as a professional stem from the respect and trust that the profession as a whole enjoys, and I accept my responsibility for embodying, protecting, and developing the standards of the management profession, so as to enhance that trust and respect.
It's particularly gratifying to see this change occur at Harvard Business School, which, as far as I know, still lacks a stand-alone ethics course requirement for undergraduates. It would be wonderful if the growing number of online MBA programs encouraged a similar oath (the link above uses a dubious ranking methodology).

I will surely support something similar in the article I am preparing: "Beyond Empiricism: Fulfilling the Ethical Promise of Management"

1 comment:

  1. Very good, and especially nice to see from Harvard. I'll have it added to the links on the Business Ethics Pledge website, http://www.business-ethics-pledge.org

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