Coverage from the Medical Field

Jessica Freedman on the MedEdits blog just gave us a shout. We could learn a lot from the medical profession about instituting a code of ethics.  Do any doctors want to share their thoughts on the oath?

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MBA Oath picked up by the New York Times, Planet Money, Nicholas Kristoff

Today was a big day for getting the word out about the MBA Oath. We got mentions in the New York Times, NPR’s Planet Money, and on Nicholas Kristoff’s daily updates. Since we began, we’ve been hoping to generate a broader public conversation about the role of business in society through our efforts with the oath. I hope we will be humble and wise in responding to the interest that this will bring. Please read the articles

NY Times: “A Promise To Be Ethical in an Era of Immorality” – Leslie Wayne

“When a new crop of future business leaders graduates from the Harvard Business School next week, many of them will be taking a new oath that says, in effect, greed is not good.

What happened to making money?

That, of course, is still at the heart of the Harvard curriculum. But at Harvard and other top business schools, there has been an explosion of interest in ethics courses and in student activities — clubs, lectures, conferences — about personal and corporate responsibility and on how to view business as more than a money-making enterprise, but part of a large social community.”

NPR Planet Money Blog: First Do Not Steal From Shareholders

“It seems that a group of MBA candidates at HBS, surveying the wasteland that that has been made of their soon-to-be profession, have decided that new business managers should hold themselves accountable to something more than insane short-term growth and ridiculous bonuses.”

New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristoff comment on Facebook

“It’s no panacea, but anything that introduces ethical aspirations and larger values into the business world is a good idea, no?”

The replies are especially interesting. Here’s a sampling:

Ashley at 7:25am May 29
I think this is a wonderful idea; however, people going into any high performing job (MBA, Teachers, etc) should strive to be ethical all the time without any verbal acknowledgment.

Robin at 7:25am May 29
aren’t ethics and business sort of like military and intelligence, or oil and water. they just don’t go together

Jack at 7:31am May 29
The mere introduction of the concept is a step forward. As with all oaths and codes, there’s no enforcement power. Still, the oath at least gives graduates something to think about.

Sarah at 7:34am May 29
Most great ideas are borne of idealism, Harvard has it right. Here’s hoping the MBA Oath will “trickle-down” to the rest. I’m an MBA student at UMKC, and have always wondered why there is no industry-standard quality mantra or oath.

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We passed 200!

200 people who have taken the MBA Oath. This is a great start, but we have a long way to go. Thank you everyone for your belief and support.

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Why is the oath important to you?

In the comment box below, please share your feelings about the MBA Oath and why it is meaningful to you. We want to provide an outlet for signers of the oath to express their convictions about ethics in business, making management a profession, and the duties of MBAs to society. Please note that this is a public forum.

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In 1908, when Harvard began the world’s first two-year masters program in management education, it was called a “great, but delicate experiment.” The experiment proposed to turn the occupation of management into a profession, like law or medicine.  Leaders of the business school movement wanted to ensure that large corporations, which were just coming into existence, would be run in the interests of society.  It was an effort to say “We are all in this together.” Our school’s own motto reflects this vision: “To educate leaders who make a difference in the world.”

Has the experiment succeeded?  Is society better off for having MBAs?

This year, U.S. schools will award more than 150,000 MBA degrees, more than twice the number of law degrees and medical degrees combined. And yet the MBA does not make you a professional like these other degrees do. During this last semester of our second year, a few of us started wondering, What if it did?

What if each of us on our graduation committed to holding ourselves to a higher standard? What if we had a code of conduct, the management equivalent of the Hippocratic oath?  What if we at MBAs actually lived up to our billing and became leaders who don’t just make a difference in the world, but make a difference for the world?

My hope is that at our 25th reunion our class will not be known for how much money we made or how much money we gave back to the school, but for how the world was a better place as a result of our leadership. This oath doesn’t guarantee that. Not by a long shot. But it is a first step. And it is one that we are making as we begin our careers as professionals.

This is the beginning.

I hope you’ll join us.

– Max Anderson

Cambridge, May 2009

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