Category: Social Impact
A recent post on the Academy of Management Review’s (AMR) Ethicist Blog explores new questions gaining traction in management education: Are today’s students “ethically broken” when they enter business schools? And, “through the use of ‘normal’ business school language, modeling, and metrics,” in the classroom, does management faculty “perpetuate ‘broken’ student perspectives and behaviors”?
AMR turned to Boston University School of Management Assistant Professor Kabrina Kebrel Chang to answer these questions, writing, “Chang and her holistic re-framing of how Boston University School of Management is approaching business ethics were featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article. She is a lawyer who teaches business law and ethics at BU, and her research includes how social media is fundamentally influencing employment decisions.”
Asked about how she approaches ethics, particularly in the undergraduate classroom, Chang explains,
I am at a b-school in the Northeast and students are uber-motivated. Being in a business school, sadly I take it as a given that we will need to break many of the money=happiness equation. Breaking the equation has to happen in more than one class, and they have to see real examples.…My focus is on the critical thinking skills—getting [students] to broaden their horizons when it comes to decision-making will have a real impact on their ability to make decisions that will take into account the betterment of people and not just the betterment of their business….My take on ethics and the take I employ now…is not to teach [students] right and wrong but to teach them that there’s more to think about with a decision.
Guide to 322 Green Colleges praises sustainability office, student organizations, and sustainability-related courses
Excerpts from Bostonia:
Boston University is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada, according to the new edition of The Princeton Review‘s Guide to 322 Green Colleges.
“In a few short years Boston University has made significant strides toward a sustainable future,” the authors write in the guide. “With its sustainability committee, four working groups, sustainability office, a one million dollar revolving fund, departments, student organizations, and nearly 400 courses related to sustainability, the university has developed an impressive sustainability program by any measure.”
The Princeton Review took note of BU’s green buildings and transportation and also drew attention to its retrofitting of existing buildings for energy efficiency through equipment, lighting and energy management systems, and window replacement projects.
In its section on Boston University, The Princeton Review wrote, “In 2011, BU became a member of the Founding Circle of the ‘Billion Dollar Green Challenge.’ Buildings currently under construction will seek LEED certification or better, and there are already two LEED-certified buildings on campus. BU has increased its waste-diversion rate from four percent to 31 percent. Ninety-two percent of students arrive to campus by alternative means. The main campus is organized along one of Boston’s main thoroughfares, with nine subway stops, thirteen intercity bus lines, the BU Bus, and three other shuttle services serving the campuses. BU has an active ride share program and boasts the first bike lanes in Boston’s growing network, which now incorporates more than 100 miles of city streets and parks.
“Other highlights include an award-winning website to engage the university community with a monthly sustainability challenge. To keep up the green pace, there are seventeen sustainable student organizations on campus, from BU Bikes to USGBC Students. BU’s green initiatives even extend to the university’s myriad dining halls. Efforts include 91 percent of the facilities running pre-consumer composting programs, sourcing cage-free eggs, and donating leftover baked goods to local meal programs, food pantries, and shelters.”
“Colleges train the next generation of leaders who will ultimately be responsible for putting green ideas into practice,” the authors note. “By infusing sustainability principles into every aspect of higher education, there is a new priority for a whole generation of leaders, educated and trained, to make a greener world now.”
Photo via BU Today
The annual magazine Research at Boston University has profiled the pioneering work and social impact of the School of Management’s Nalin Kulatilaka. In their feature “Considering Community,” they write,
Perhaps it is no wonder that an electrical engineer who became a professor of finance would take an interest in how green buildings can provide monetary benefits for the people who have the resources to fund renewable energy projects….
That’s part of the story of Nalin Kulatilaka, who teaches in the School of Management and is a codirector of the Clean Energy & Environmental Sustainability Initiative.
“My research is on sustainable energy investments,” Kulatilaka says. “From renewable energy sources like solar and wind to energy conservation and energy efficiency investments like building retrofits.”
The thrust of his work is to incentivize the up-front funding for green energy buildings from banks and other sources by writing a new kind of contract for the loans that fuel such changes. The contracts are intended to monetize the savings that green energy can achieve, so that the investors who put up the capital can capture some of the money saved as revenue from the project.
“We are now designing contracts where the building owner and tenant could share the savings.”
Recently, Kulatilaka has worked on buildings owned by the Cambridge Housing Authority in Central Square. Some were heated entirely by electricity, some were particularly leaky, and all lacked the investment capital needed for retrofits.
“My contribution there, with Professor of Earth & Environment Robert Kaufmann and a team of students, was to first assess the opportunity; to try to quantify what the savings would be by using various statistical techniques that analyze the demand patterns of the building,” he says.
“We are now designing contracts where the building owner and the tenant could share the savings. These would occur in such a way that funding could be attracted from conventional—or at least semi-conventional—sources like large banks.”
Carroll, A.B., Lipartito, K.J., Post, J.E., Werhane, P. H., & Goodpaster, K.E. (2012). Corporate Responsibility: The American Experience, Cambridge University Press.
Since the dawn of capitalism, nations have struggled to solve “the corporate dilemma.” On one hand, corporations–capitalism’s dominant organizational form–have proven effective mechanisms for producing wealth, meeting consumer needs, and building industries that employ millions. On the other hand, they often impose costly negative externalities on workers, communities, and the natural environment. Corporate responsibility is the “third way” between self-interest and government regulation to address this dilemma.
But to whom do corporations owe a responsibility? For what? And how are those responsibilities, once defined, to be met?
These questions have haunted capitalism throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, both in the US and abroad. Although today constructive corporate citizenship is a hallmark of many leading companies, no single-volume history exists of the concept and practice of corporate responsibility. In his new book, Boston University School of Management’s James E. Post, the John F. Smith Professor in Management, aims to fill this gap. Along with a team of four senior scholars and nearly a dozen research aides, Post and his co-authors have published Corporate Responsibility: The American Experience, from Cambridge University Press.
The story behind the rise of corporate citizenship
This book tells the story of how corporate responsibility emerged as both an idea and practice in the modern firm. Says Bill George, former chairman and CEO of Medtronics and current faculty member at Harvard Business School, the work is “brilliantly researched and beautifully written.” It also a offers gallery of nearly 100 pictures, most in color, featuring seminal moments in the history of corporate citizenship.
“Brilliantly researched and beautifully written“ – Bill George, Former Chairman & CEO, Medtronics; Professor, Management Practice, Harvard Business School
“Our vision, and our hope,” says Post, “was to create a compelling historical narrative of how corporate responsibility emerged as a concept and became part of the American business psyche. It is an idea that has had a significant and enduring influence on both corporate rhetoric and behavior. Now, we offer the story of how business practice has changed as our nation (and the world) evolved, social pressures built, and companies were challenged to respond and then anticipate where these transformations would lead.”
This is no whitewash of business practice, Post explains. The book candidly covers examples of labor violence, such as the slaughter of dozens of miners, women, and children in Ludlow, Colorado in the infamous Shirtwaist Triangle factory fire; sweatshop conditions in modern factories; and the recent Occupy Wall Street movement. But it also offers inspiring stories as well, such as J. Irwin Miller’s leadership in civil rights as CEO of Cummins Engine Company; Bill Norris’ commitment to radical social innovation in Minneapolis as CEO of Control Data; General Mills’ 150 years of corporate volunteerism and community philanthropy; and the role of women as crusaders, activists, and critical contributors to industrial development and family-friendly and fair workplace policies.
Boston University’s heritage in creating corporate, and social, value
New England companies have often been in the vanguard of corporate citizenship. Post explains that “locally, many Boston University alumni will remember the role of Boston businesses in school desegregation; Polaroid’s withdrawal from the South Africa of apartheid days; and Aaron Feuerstein’s bold commitment to continue paying workers who were unemployed as a result of the great Malden Mills fire in Lawrence, Massachusetts in December 1995.” Progressive human relations practices remain a hallmark of many local companies, Post points out: Ben and Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Tom’s of Maine, and other New England-bred models of social entrepreneurship.
While belief in corporate responsibility is part of America’s cultural fabric, it is also part of Boston University’s heritage. The founding dean of the School of Management, which in 2013 celebrates its 100th year of classes, was Everett W. Lord: an activist for child labor protection, a believer in professional education, and author of The Fundamentals of Business Ethics. The book, published in 1926, challenges students and business leaders alike to view ethics and integrity as the keys to personal success. To Dean Lord and his successors, the purpose of business has always been “service to society.”
About James E. Post
James E. Post teaches in the Markets, Public Policy & Law department in the School of Management, and has been involved in conceptual and practical debates over these issues in many forums since joining the Boston University School of Management faculty in 1974. He criticized companies that engaged in questionable marketing of baby formula in the 1980s, then consulted with the World Health Organization on a pioneering international code of marketing practices. He has worked to professionalize corporate public affairs in the U.S., Europe, and Australia, has written extensively about the concept and practice of business and society, and is frequently cited in the media for his expertise. In 2010, Post received a lifetime achievement award from the Aspen Institute.
Read more about the book Corporate Responsibility: The American Experience.
Management students learn and lead grant-making process
A team of seven Boston University graduate students awarded a $10,000 grant from the Highland Street Foundation to Housing Families Inc. on December 6 to improve the shelter’s technology infrastructure. “As part of the Strategic Fundraising and Corporate Philanthropy class,” said David Stolow, Faculty Director of the Public and Nonprofit MBA program, “the student team operated as a small foundation. They set priorities, designed an application and review process, and conducted in-depth site visits.”
The student team received initial applications from 21 shelter providers, and selected ten to submit full proposals, before choosing Health Families to receive the grant. The student team was composed of full-time and part-time MBA students, and a student from the BU School of Social Work. “The Public and Nonprofit MBA program emphasizes authentic projects. We challenge students to apply their rigorous management skills to address urgent and complex social issues,” said Stolow. “The philanthropy project exemplifies our approach and we’re grateful to the Highland Street Foundation and its Youth Philanthropy Initiative for its generous support of this project.”
In photo: Boston University students and Highland Street Foundation members present a check to Housing Families Inc, a local shelter.
Nathan Bernard (BSBA’12) delivered his elevator pitch for Boston University Urban Business Accelerator
Nathan Bernard (BSBA’12) visited MSNBC’s “Your Business” as part of their elevator pitch segment, where he delivered his entrepreneurial pitch for feedback from guests Beth Goldstein (Senior Associate for Distance Learning, Boston University Institute for Technology and Entrepreneurship Commercialization) and Jarrod Barood (Executive Director, Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies, Fairleigh Dickinson University).
Bernard, who prepared and refined his pitch with the help of SMG faculty and staff, founded the BU Urban Business Accelerator (BUBA), which pairs student teams hungry for experience with local businesses in need of assistance in organizing their financials. BUBA had a successful pilot this past summer with two student teams and local businesses, and has six new client businesses this fall.
Seminal Text Re-Released for New Generation of Scholars, Practitioners
Stanford University Press has chosen Lee Preston and James Post’s Private Management and Public Policy: The Principle of Public Responsibility for their Business Classics Series, devoted to bringing the management field’s seminal texts to a new generation of leaders, researchers, and students.
Lee Preston, who passed away in 2011 after a long and distinguished career, was Professor Emeritus in the Department of Logistics, Business, and Public Policy at the University of Maryland, and a Fellow of the Academy of Management.
Describing this new edition of Preston and Post’s book, which was originally published in 1975, Stanford University Press writes,
“Private Management and Public Policy is a landmark work at the intersection of business and society….The text develops the ‘principle of public responsibility’ as an alternative to the notion that firms have unlimited accountability…. Arguably, the book’s major contribution is its broad outline of an alternative theory of the firm in society—one that offers the possibility of overcoming traditional public and private dichotomies.”
Throughout, Preston and Post address three fundamental questions:
- What must business do to demonstrate responsiveness to social and political issues?
- What is the proper role of the corporation in the political arena?
- What are the limits of corporate responsibility in the modern world?
Of this third question, Post writes in a new introduction to the book,
“No firm can have unlimited responsibilities for everything, and yet no firm can reasonably expect society to hold it accountable for nothing.”
“Corporate responsibility is a vital topic for twenty-first century companies and managers. No firm can have unlimited responsibilities for everything, and yet no firm can reasonably expect society to hold it accountable for nothing. The difficult part for managers and citizens alike is to define logical limits of demarcation –and practical guidelines– based on what the firm actually does and the impact it actually has on society. The principle of public responsibility, as it is called in this book, extends the firm’s responsibility to its primary involvement (those things it chooses to do) and secondary involvement (those impacts that flow from its primary activities), but no further. The scope of responsibility may be great, depending on the size of the corporate footprint, but it is not unlimited.”
Read more about Private Management and Public Policy.
Bridging Management and Global Health & Development
Students from the Health Sector Management Program at Boston University have founded the Global Health and Development Association (GHD). This new organization seeks to bridge the divide between management and global health and development, while directly connecting and involving BU MBA students with issues that affect the developing world.
“We seek to better understand these complex issues of health and development so that we can learn to address them through innovation and effective management,” GHD members explain, through events such as speakers and panels with industry leaders, international collaborative consulting opportunities, alliances with other schools and departments across the University, and social and networking events. “The GHD Association is also a great addition to two clubs already operating within the Health Sector Management Program—the Bio Business Organization and the Health Services Management Association because we present the perspective of providing care in developing countries, emerging economies, and low resource settings,” adds student Meg Meyer (MBA’12).
Participants include primarily first- and second-year MBA students across many concentrations, including the Health Sector Management Program as well as students from the Professional Evening MBA Program, the School of Public Health, the School of Engineering, and the School of Medicine at Boston University.
Recent and upcoming events sponsored by GHD include:
- Friends of Ngong Road: Using Business Principals to Launch and Grow an International NGO: On Friday, October 14th, 2011, Amy Johnson, Board Member/CFO, and Peter Ndungu, Executive Director, both from Friends of Ngong Road, a Nairobi, Kenya-based NGO, discussed starting and growing an international non-profit using business principles. They covered topics such as creating strong financial controls and metrics; overcoming growing pains and pitfalls; using technology to your advantage; and working with different currencies.
- Global Health and Diagnostics: Featuring Dr. Una Ryan, President and CEO, Diagnostics for All, discussing her organization’s dedication to creating low-cost, easy-to-use, point-of-care diagnostics specifically designed for the 60% of the developing world that lives beyond the reach of medical access. More
- Spring 2012 semester back-to schools networking event, co-sponsored by the Bio Business Organization and the Health Services Management Association
- Fundraiser auction supporting a rural clinic in Palwal, India—one of the destinations of the School’s India Field Seminar
- Upcoming Speaker Series event in collaboration with Boston University School of Biomedical Engineering, planned for March 29, 2012, and featuring three speakers discussion their experiences in the fields of business, engineering, and public health.
- Discussion and collaborative learning experience between School of Management and School Engineering students, focused on exploring innovative business models for products that have been developed at BU School of Engineering, including a counterfeit drug detector and a device to diagnose pneumonia.
- Participation in the Emory for a Global Health Case Competition (March 30th-April 1st)
Explains Meyer, “This club is important to MBAs because many students are interested in or have experience with international health but aren’t quite sure how to integrate it into their career or are interested in learning more about it. The GHD club gives them an opportunity to hear speakers and meet people with expertise in this area. It’s also a great opportunity for collaboration across different schools within Boston University. In the future,” Meyer adds, “we hope to continue connecting with other schools throughout BU and establish yearly signature events.”
From the Article “Philanthropy Gains Eager Followers in B-Schools”
In a recent article, Business Week online spotlights Boston University’s Public and & Nonprofit Management Program (PNP) and the in-depth exposure to philanthropy that it provides MBA students.
Noting that “MBA and undergraduate courses on philanthropy are proliferating as interest grows among a generation of B-school idealists,” journalist Alison Damast reports,
Today, dozens of MBA and undergraduate programs teach philanthropy as an academic subject, exposing students to both the art and science of giving. Some schools—including Stanford, Columbia Business School, and the Boston University School of Management—teach entire courses focused solely on the topic, while others weave philanthropy into the curriculum of social-enterprise courses….
“This is a generation used to being hands-on,” McCormack says. “They want to have a direct impact.”
MBA students are…eager to become better-educated, savvier philanthropists, says Kristen McCormack, faculty director of the Public & Non-Profit Management program at the Boston University School of Management, where she has been teaching a course on the topic for the last decade. During the last four years, a group of students in the course have been charged with the task of giving away $10,000 to a local charity….This year’s class decided to give all its money to a group called Medicine Wheel Productions in South Boston, a nonprofit that works with troubled youth via public art projects.
“They need to figure out ‘how much good can I do with this money,’” McCormack says. “It is a very strategic kind of question that involves their business skills.”
In the last few years, interest in philanthropy and fundraising classes has grown as more business schools emphasize ethics and corporate responsibility in the curriculum, McCormack notes. As a result, more students are interested in serving on the boards of directors of nonprofit groups and in giving away a portion of income to charitable organizations. At the same time, the number of new family foundations is on the rise, she said, as more students want to learn how to make an impact with their money. “This is a generation used to being hands-on,” McCormack says. “They want to have a direct impact.”
Read full article at Business Week online.
About the Brazil Field Seminar
The Brazilian Field Seminar program is designed for MBA students who seek to understand the changing role of business in society, specifically as it pertains to corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. We will explore the potential for business to address sustainability challenges through technical innovations, business practices, entrepreneurial initiatives and new business models designed to alleviate social or environmental conditions, make more efficient use of energy and natural resources, provide adequate health and education services, lower risk, create value and cause less harm to society in both urban and rural settings.
Time spent in Brazil allows students to witness the development and application of sustainable business models and practices first- hand, through the eyes of managers, entrepreneurs, CEOs and consumers. More Information
About the International Field Seminars
International Field Seminars are offered to those graduate students who seek to learn outside the classroom and beyond the book. Students begin their studies in a Boston classroom with preliminary research and complete the program abroad, speaking with the CEOs and managers of the most relevant companies and organizations in the area. More Information