Professor Jem Bendell

notes from a strategist and educator on social and organisational change

Flattery before a fall? How top biz schools must step up

Posted by jembendell on May 12, 2011

Ive been on the road for the last few years, but wherever I go Ive foind people love name dropping Harvard Business School, INSEAD, Said Business School etc. Although about 10 years ago I decided my academic connection would be with biz schools not other parts of the Uni sector, I never really acknowledged this obsession with biz school brands. When I was at Uni, being snooty about business schools seemed peculiar to me, as most academics and students of top universities looked down their noses at the business schools and departments for not teaching “proper” subjects. I recall my contemporaries at Cambridge scoffing at one of our cohort switching to business studies at the University’s new business school, then called Judge Management Institute. Back then it wasn’t considered something a smart person would do. Well maybe he could scoff at us now.

In recent months I’ve been looking into what business schools have been doing to play a useful role in society. I discovered that business schools originally had a very progressive role, in democratising access to senior roles in business. However today it appears that some of the elite schools are the laggards in real enquiry and social change. Perhaps they’re too self absorbed. It seems there’s nothing worse for your performance than being widely admired.

I discovered some great innovations in progressive business education in France, India and South Africa. And to summarise, I outlined 16 steps that responsible business schools should take. These I developed from a variety of experiences, conversations and experiments, including some work with the Pro Vice Chancellor of an innovative Uni in Australia that I’ve worked with for some years now. Im hoping they will feed into a number of initiatives Im involved inm and still others Im not, to help shift more schools towards being enablers of truly responsible and transformative leadership. Read more at http://www.lifeworth.com/consult/2011/05/sixteensteps/

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