July 12, 2022

Business Schools Can Be A Force For Good

Today we’re featuring an article from independent news organization, The Conversation, which uncovers how business schools are often a good force for societal impact.


George Siedel, Emeritus Professor of Business from the University of Michigan, delivers several examples from his recently published book, Seven Essentials for Business Success: Lessons from Legendary Professors, that highlights star professors who are deeply involved in activities outside their traditional classrooms that have a positive impact on their students and society at large.


Before Siedel dives into the notable societal impact of star professors, he notes the darker side of several books that highlight the failure of business schools to develop ethical business leaders and their negative impact to society.  He includes titles such as Shut Down the Business School: What’s Wrong with Management Education or Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: The Sad History of American Business Schools.  Additionally, Siedel highlights a February 2022 address from Dartmouth management professor Sydney Finkelstein that criticized business schools for not producing research that has an impact on society.  However, after Siedel performed his own research for his own book, he concluded that much of the criticism against business schools comes across as one-sided and overstated at best.


One of the star professors highlighted in Siedel’s book is Stanford emeritus accounting professor Charles Lee, who has helped bring to his campus the Veritas Forum, which focuses on community engagement.  The organization encourages students to address fundamental questions, such as “Who are you?” “What are you doing here?” and “Where are you going?”  Lee stresses to students that “you are not your resume,” and instead encourages students to use metrics such as virtue to define success and happiness in life.


Another star professor is Wharton business law professor Richard Shell who co-founded the “Purpose, Passion, and Principles Program.”  The program encourages students to reflect on how they define success and happiness.  Feedback from students noted how the program develops a better understanding of how to define happiness and success in both personal and professional settings.


A third professor Siedel highlights is Jan Rivkin who leads Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project.  Rivkin is passionate in training the next generation of civic leaders through an adjacent project called the Young American Leaders Program.  An example of one opportunity was in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where high school students were paid $9 an hour to help make car parts at a local manufacturer.  The hands-on job experience not only counted toward their graduation but also was a way for students to interact and help a real company succeed.


For a full read of the article with several more examples of the star business school professors, click here.