The PRME Working Group on Poverty as a Challenge to Management Education (Anti-Poverty Working Group), launched in 2008, advocates for the integration of poverty-related discussion into all levels of management education worldwide. It is grounded in the belief that poverty is a legitimate topic for discussion and research in business schools and that business can and should be a catalyst for innovative, profitable and responsible approaches to poverty reduction.
According to the PRME Anti-Poverty Working Group, “Business schools, as the main providers of educational services, need to exchange views and ideas, collaborate and develop new ways and means to sustainable development and the development of responsible leadership for a better world. In this context, fighting poverty is not only one of the major Millennium Development Goals, but also a big challenge for management education.”
I recently had the chance to speak with Milenko Gudic, IMTA Managing Director at CEEMAN and the co-facilitator of the Working Group, about their current and future activities. (To read Part 1 of this interview click here.)
6. You have developed a collection of best practices. What are your plans for this?
The Collection of Best Practices and Inspirational Solutions that we presented as one of the Working Group’s deliverables for the 3rd PRME Global Forum and Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum is only an embryo of the future online platform for sharing experience on how to integrate poverty-related issues into management teaching. The collection encompasses 13 different inputs related to educational content and processes, including new cases, articles, books, up-to-date course designs, programme development materials, and partnership arrangements with other learning partners. Through the open access platform, faculty and business schools from around the world will have the opportunity to learn from and also contribute to this output. We are happy that there is an increasing interest for both learning and contributing. The latter is particularly encouraging.
7. What are some examples from the collection of solutions?
In conceptualizing and designing our survey, we followed to some extent the approach from the UNDP Growing Inclusive Market Initiative (GIM). This project developed more than 100 cases on specific solutions that business developed to address the main constraints they face in low-income markets. Each of them offers interesting learning lessons, while all of them remind us once again that business schools are lagging behind businesses in responding to market needs and opportunities.
Our Collection of Best Practices and Inspirational Solutions provides equally interesting and inspirational solutions on how to integrate poverty-related issues into management education. One of these solutions, GLOBE (Global Loan Opportunities for Budding Entrepreneurs), by Linda Sama from St. John’s University, received the 2012 Innovation in Entrepreneurship Pedagogy Award from the Academy of Management Entrepreneurship Division and McGraw Hill in recognition of the development and implementation of a social entrepreneurship course. GLOBE is a student-managed microloan programme that provides loans, sourced through donations, to entrepreneurs in the world’s most impoverished communities with the goal of helping those living in poverty elevate themselves to a higher standard of living.
8. Is there a growing interest in this area?
In presenting the survey/report results to undergraduate students, participants at different MBA, MSc and doctoral programmes, and faculty members at Bocconi University and SDA in Milan, Italy, and ISM-University of Management and Economics in Vilnius, Lithuania, I witnessed tremendous interest in this area, from both the the schools, student, and faculty champions. I have found it very encouraging.
Recently, the 2012 Academy of Management, held this August in Boston, enlisted the session on the Informal Economy, Poverty and Responsible Management Education as one of the All Academy Theme events. The discussion there was filled with passion about what business schools could and should do in fighting poverty.
Turning this passion into action is what the Working Group, with support from PRME and CEEMAN, has been trying to facilitate and will continue to do so in the future. That is our mission and passion, too. It is really a great privilege and pleasure to collaborate with and learn from so many outstanding professionals and wonderful personalities.
9. What changes do you think business schools can make to play their part in fighting poverty?
Business schools in general need to redefine the “business of business education”. By establishing a regular and meaningful external dialogue, they will better understand the challenges and the resulting educational expectations and needs of their major stakeholders, particularly businesses and students.
Related to this is also the need to establish and maintain a continuous internal dialogue among faculty and institutional leadership, particularly around the issues that go beyond individual disciplines. This is important for the creation of new intellectual, research, educational and institutional agenda that schools worldwide need.
The most effective way to deal with all this is through faculty development. This is an absolute priority and precondition for any other change. The experience of the CEEMAN’s International Management Teachers Academy (IMTA), a faculty development programme aimed at creating a new generation of management educators for the new generation of business leaders, confirms that it works. By educating 450 management faculty, IMTA has made an impact on 135 institutions in 37 countries around the world. The new disciplinary track on how to teach the issues related to business in society will include also the issue of poverty.
10. What’s next for the Working Group and how can others get involved?
Following our vision statement and the general frame of work that we agreed upon when the group was established, and building on the work done so far, our current priorities include:
- Further building the case for businesses and management development institutions to include poverty-related issues into their respective strategies and programmes. Promoting the Collection of Best Practices and Inspirational Solution and contributing to its further growth and development into an online platform for experience sharing among management educators around the globe.
- Producing new deliverables for the 2013 PRME Summit, which CEEMAN will host in September 2013 in Bled, Slovenia.
To facilitate achieving these priorities, the Working Group will organize an international conference/workshop on Fighting Poverty thorough Management Education in conjunction with the PRME 2013 Summit, which will provide for sharing and reviewing the work in progress. The event will be open for all those who are interested in the topic of integrating poverty-related issues into management education, including from PRME movement and beyond.
Equally open will be the upcoming call for contribution to the two books that the Working Group is now beginning, which will be published in cooperation with PRME, CEEMAN and Greenleaf Publishing. One of them will be on the question of WHY poverty-related issues in management education, and the other on the question HOW.