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The MBA Oath: Setting a Higher Standard for Business Leaders Hardcover – April 29, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
The authors, not long out of Harvard Business School, along with many other classmates and supporters, are proponents of the hot new idea of an "MBA oath," similar in some ways to the Hippocratic Oath, as an inspiration and accountability tool for the jungle-like business climate. Shadows of Enron and assorted villain-companies, and the dire financial situation of the current recession drive the project, which they view even at this early state as a successful effort to clothe business managers with foundational ethics and morality. Now a global movement, the eight-point oath involves promises of responsibility, growth, development, honesty, and respect for the law. The authors dissect it thoroughly, with illustrations from a variety of interesting case studies and tests. As more than 10,000 schools worldwide offer MBA degrees, the writers caution that a business school ranking is influenced by the average compensation of a graduate during his first year after school and that compensation, rather than value, has become the keystone of an education. They also note that a sixty-four-page ethics manual proved powerless in the hands of Enron management. Suggesting that managers operate at a baseline level of doing no harm, The MBA Oath is a strong call for ethical reform.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In 2009, a team of Harvard Business School students started an impressive movement: to transform the reputation of business, one person at a time, through the construction of and self-adherence to an MBA oath, similar to the physician's Hippocratic oath. Truth is, it's about time. The recent $50 trillion global loss in financial assets coupled with a lack of integrity and personal accountability has created a huge crisis of reputation on Wall Street—and Main Street.Two of the oath's promulgators, Max Anderson and Peter Escher, have provided thoughtful arguments for realigning the profession, with equally strongly rationales for the oath's principles. To be expected from Harvard Business School–trained professionals, they cite case after case to buttress their points, both good and bad stories, the latter including the Tylenol crisis. The authors present their arguments rationally and passionately. Who could argue with young leaders who argue that managers must “strive to create sustainable economic, social, and environmental prosperity worldwide”? --Barbara Jacobs
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The book starts off with the oath which stresses integrity, managing in good faith, responsibility for your actions, and safeguarding the interests of shareholders, customers, coworkers, and society among others.
The book interestingly touches on how MBA students are taught to "juice" returns with debt. Some students take on huge debt loans with the thought process they will easily be able to pay back the loan. This easy credit behavior may have led some down a path levering up their companies or units. A good quote from Teddy Roosevelt in the book is "to educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." Along with finance, operations, and marketing ethics needs to be part of the curriculum at all schools.
The leaders who come out of business schools like leaders of the military have a responsibility to society and to protect shareholders, society, and consumers as their decisions shape the world. The book is good for business students to understand the importance of what they are learning about. Would be great to see some case studies built into this oath to better drive home some of the ideals.
If you believe like me that the zero sum game is always avoidable and can be transformed into something more than the sum of its parts, then sign up if you are an MBA, or buy the book, if you are a manager.
I went online to see what was said about the oath and the book before buying it and it is cinic in many cases. I am glad I did not give in to the so called realists, the zero sum gamers.
This book is a must read to all those who believe that they can make a difference, to all those who want to good for themselves as well as to others. It is not one or the other. It can be both.
If you are considering getting the book, you are probably already one of us, and think the same way ; but get it anyways, it will bring to the surface what is inside you, it will give you even more insight and direction and it will make your life and that of others a little better.
We can make a difference.
Denis Malaket, MBA
University of Miami class of 1983, signer # 4287
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This book is book describes what being an MBA is all about for about 99% of all of the MBAs that have passed through the various MBA programs.Read more