MBA Oath Conversation Expands

The conversation around the MBA Oath continues to broaden.

Social change architect R. Craig Lefebvre, also a professor at George Washington University, sees the oath as a positive step towards systemic change and calls for MBAs to join the shift.

A code of ethics for business leaders that is driven by student demand is something I celebrate today.

Organizational expert Rodney Johnson speaks positively of the MBA Oath and notes that MBA students are in a unique position to formulate solutions to these issues. Anupam Chander, writing in the Law School Innovation Blog, asks whether law students should take similar oaths.

Meanwhile, Daylife CEO Upendra Shardanand considers taking the step of asking potential hires if they signed up for the MBA Oath.

However, Daniel Akst, a correspondent with The Atlantic, expresses skepticism at the idea.

“Serve the greater good?” That’s funny, I thought the job was to make as much money as possible for the owners consistent with law and human decency.

The MBA oath itself mentions safeguarding the interests of shareholders, but we believe that sustainable value creation requires exceptionally ethical leadership. An enterprise does not exist in a vacuum. Employees, customers, suppliers, and even competitors prefer to work in an environment that is committed to good faith dealings and high ethical standards.

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  1. Posted June 18, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    This is a great step towards passing a passionate message through the minds of MBA aspirants who should realize that a bunch of lives depend on how truthful they are to this OATH..

  2. Bill
    Posted June 12, 2009 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    I find it curious that this oath was created by a Harvard Business School student. Isn’t Harvard the mainstream source of Wall Street bankers, brokers, etc., the very parties responsible for the economic collapse of the United States and most of the world? The “oath” is window dressing to help protect the integrity of Harvard, a facade to go with the ivy covering the walls of the good ole boys club. The “oath” is nothing more than a self-serving connard. If Harvard grads really want to do something for society, they should stop donating money to dear old Harvard, and give the money to charities who could truly benefit society. Perhaps that would get the attention of the good ole boy’s club?

  3. Mark Nesbitt
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    I saw the NYT story, and was interested–as an HBS alum–to see the site. I thought the oath was well-crafted, the initiative very worthwhile. One thing I looked for with curiosity but could not see, is any identification or addressing of the objections. Why do people NOT want to take this oath? Is it content, process, or something else? What does it mean that, faced with the opportunity to act, only a minority of HBS grads embrace it?

  4. todd sayre
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    The oath is too vague. What does “safeguard” mean, and how do you safeguard everyone in a zero-sum game? IMO, what this oath does is safeguard MBA salaries by implying false integrity to the degree. Why don’t you guys do something serious, like swear off stock-option pay? That would make a difference.

  5. todd sayre
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    IMO, the oath is internally inconsistent. “[S]afeguarding the interests of shareholders” translates to safeguarding economic growth. But isn’t economic growth generally antithetical to a environmental sustainability?

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