Business in need of ethics

Harvard Business School recently revamped its Masters of Business Administration program, adding new required courses in ethics and teamwork, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month.

With its new curriculum, Harvard is looking for future “leaders of competence and character, rather than just connections and credentials,” said Brian Kenny, chief marketing officer at Harvard Business School, to the Wall Street Journal.

Ethics education in business schools has been a hot topic since the late 1980s, and rightfully so.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review in 2005, Warren Bennis, a distinguished professor of Business Administration in the Marshall school, said the nation’s top business schools have embraced a model where “they call for little insight into complex social and human factors and minimal time in the field discovering the actual problems facing managers.”

The culture that prevails at elite business schools, like USC’s Marshall School of Business, is often one focused on connections and networking, not ethics and management.

Though that culture is beneficial for many graduates, it also puts a premium on networking and creates a sense of entitlement among students.

That culture also means that if schools offer classes in ethics, it doesn’t guarantee students will put down their business cards and focus on learning to conduct a business ethically.

Despite the efforts the nation’s most prestigious business schools have been making in promoting ethics education, there is still a long way to go.

Moving forward, the Marshall school, faculty and students alike, would be wise to take an increased interest in ethics by jumping on this bandwagon of business education reform.

USC Marshall could also impact how business schools,  which breed our nations future leaders, emphasize ethical decision-making in the years ahead.

Emily Wang is a freshman majoring in business administration.