The Future Corporation – The Future Business School (part 2)

LEAD SymposiumThe 2014 LEAD Symposium challenges participants to sketch a vision of The Future Corporation, identifying key characteristics of what the sustainable corporation could and should look like in the future. They look to provide a beacon for the transition of the global business community that is already underway, fuelled by deeper integration of sustainability into strategies and operations. On 20 November, the PRME community is invited to watch the Live-stream and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #FutureCorporation and #GCLEAD.

To create The Future Corporation, we also need to explore The Future Business School. What kind of training is needed to ensure that future generations of employees, managers, and leaders have to create the future corporations we want and need? What, specifically, should future business schools look like, in terms of curriculum, partnerships, dialogues, campus greening, etc.?

Parts 2 and 3 of this series capture visions from PRME schools of what the Future Business School may look like. I encourage you to contribute your own. (To view part 1 click here)

“Sustainability today is a fast evolving concept. If I have to summarise priorities on how PRME schools could best serve corporations committed to sustainability in the foreseeable future, I would choose thought leadership in the following areas. First, sustainability in the future will have to inspire and guide innovation and digitalization within corporations. Second, the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis presents us with growing inequalities of income and wealth, weakened middle classes, and obvious cracks in the social contract. Corporations will need to step up their responsible behaviour and effectively contribute to the resolution of this state of affairs. Third, with the advent of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), corporate sustainability will move to a new level. Corporations will have to imagine a new practice of goal-setting: sustainable companies will be evaluated not only with respect to their relations to stakeholders and their reporting excellence but by the extent to which they contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Finally, the SDGs will have to be “grounded” in the specific situations of each country. It is my belief that in each one of these four new challenges, thought leadership from committed academics could become a powerful ally of the innovative efforts of sustainable corporations.” – Manuel Escudero, Director Global Center for Sustainable Business, Deusto Business School, Spain

“The Future Business School will create intrapreneurs who have mastery in the art of change management. Graduates will not only understand global issues but will appreciate that the recommendations they put forth will not be implemented unless people have bought into their ideas at every level of the organisation, down to the level where the actual execution of the change will occur. At the Haas School of Business, students are not just learning about the issues (for example, with our Global Megatrends course) but are also exploring, testing, and even putting into place innovative solutions to the world’s business challenges (for example, through our “Intrapreneurship for Sustainability” course).” – Christina Meinberg, Associate Director Center for Responsible Business, University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business, USA

“When students enter our institutions they bring a wealth of experience already gained during their young lives. More importantly, they bear open questions and are searching for answers to unresolved riddles, in particular concerning the pressing global issues of our times: waste of resources, climate change, losses of biodiversity, poverty, and humanitarian crises. Future business schools will tap into this intrinsic motivation by offering innovative formats where open debate on these issues may unfold, enabling the development of creative responses and practical ways to move forward on their solutions by prototyping innovative models. They turn into living labs, interacting with the wider societal context and relevant stakeholder groups, where teaching staff–instead of offering prefabricated answers in edited formats derived from their disciplines–take the role of co-creators of social innovation. Hence, education aims at creating inventors, enablers, as well as enactors of social change. The role of research is to derive practical theories of social change, where insights gained from applied open innovation projects are operationalised, (re-)confirmed, and tested. In these collaborative spaces, students share the attitude that improvements for our world out of business schools will only occur if they are given the chance to materialise by means of creative experimentation while making use of inherent systemic levers. We are attempting this through our Student HUB for social innovation, a collaborative initiative of University of Tübingen, Germany, and HTW Chur, Switzerland.” Lutz E. Schlange, University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur, Switzerland

“The Future Business School functions as a partner to business, continuously inspiring each other’s management and leadership needs. Besides being a support in leadership development, the business school must be able to assist in resolving issues at short notice. Functional topics will be integrated with topics and methods that promote creativity, imagination, inspiration, and the use of senses, because the red line for business will be sustainable innovation. For that reason, we have a film director and a gallery owner on the IEDC faculty list. Business leadership or corporate governance will have three major aspects: organisational effectiveness, power distribution, and ethical drive. The business school will also look different. IEDC is already also a gallery, not as a showcase, but as a place where art and leadership development can be integrated. Most of the future programmes will be executed as workshops and at outside locations, in order to have a greater impact. At IEDC, we are trying to continuously look for new answers to what leadership is and will be in the future, for example through our upcoming 2015 Academic Conference “Leadership: Today & Tomorrow”.”- Danica Purg, Dean, IEDC-Bled School of Management, Slovenia

“For some, the global financial crisis of 2008 and the worst recession since the ‘Great Depression’ was, in effect, the fault of business schools. Well, maybe not business schools per se, but certainly strong criticism has been levelled at MBAs, and a curriculum focussed primarily on corporate and personal gain, regardless. Not surprising then, we have since seen many B-schools try to soften their image, at least a little, by extolling the virtues of responsible business. But other than that, has anything really changed? The odd lecture or even course on responsible business is a step, but that’s often more symbolic–a ‘fig-leaf’ as it were, rather than real transformation. As others have suggested elsewhere, what we really need to do is change culture, where responsibility and sustainability become truly embedded as part of our corporate DNA. Great, but cultures grow, cultures evolve; they don’t ‘change on a dime’ (and universities are even slower)! As a start at least, at Guelph we’ve adapted the motto ‘Leaders for a Sustainable World’: aspirational for sure, and we’re certainly not alone in this quest. But these are just words: aspirational statements won’t get us very far, and we need to ‘walk the talk’ if we’re going to really affect change. So that’s what we’re doing. Our students are learning through experience about ‘business for good,’ for example, through ‘Micro-Tyco,’ where they become an entrepreneur to help fund an entrepreneur in the developing world by generating funds for micro-finance.”- Kerry Godfrey, Associate Dean College of Business and Economics, University of Guelph, Canada

“The Future Business School will be a place where profit is only part one. Students will know that, for each business action, there must be a part two: social benefit. Today, that concept is understood and enthusiastically embraced by some students—but not all. The business school of the future will turn the tables, changing the 10 percent exception into the 90 percent rule. Some of that change will be out of necessity. A 2010 Forbes study identified 17 social and environmental initiatives that consumers expect of “good companies.” As that number grows, students in all business fields will need to master corporate social responsibility. The International Energy Association forecasts carbon dioxide emissions to increase 20 percent more by 2035, affecting the climate in ways that will become urgent to business students, no matter what their academic track. Another piece of the change, however, will come from business schools themselves, as ethics and strong values become factors that all business schools realise they must put front and centre—not just some. That is already sewn into Fordham’s identity; we are grateful for our selection as an Ashoka Changemaker Campus.” – Donna Rapaccioli, Dean, Fordham Gabelli School of Business, USA


For more ideas visit the Future MBA Project, a growing database of ideas from around the world on what the future of management education might/could/will look like.


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