The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Global Business School Network (GBSN) and the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI) Align Voices for Big Push to Change Business Education
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – As countries step up efforts to address increasingly complex social and environmental challenges, they will lean strongly on the business sector to play its part and contribute to finding solutions. Business education will be key to create understanding among future business leaders about this new business environment, and build the skills to operate in it.
This message came through strongly in a discussion among over 60 business education leaders from 29 countries gathered at the Sofitel Chain Bridge Hotel in Budapest to shed light on the role of business schools in sustainable development across the globe.
The event was held against the backdrop of the EFMD Deans and Directors Conference, at Corvinus Business School, one of the foremost global gatherings for accredited business schools. The discussants made a compelling argument that business as usual was no longer a viable options for business schools or business.
“Global pressures and a changing business environment have become complicated. We are moving from an era of liberalization and deregulation to one of regulation with a sustainability angle. These challenges should infuse a company’s entire business practice. Managers will need to take the lead on this,” said James Zhan, Director of Investment and Enterprise at UNCTAD.
“Old-style business models and attitudes, driven solely by the profit motive, will not make it in the new environment. Business will be pushed, and therefore you [business educators] will be pushed to move into the sustainability area. These issues need to be reflected in a new business education approach,” he told the gathering of business schools deans.
Cecilie Hultmann, Sustainability Risk Manager at the DNV GL Group in Norway concurred that issues of sustainability were no longer non-core and should not be the sole responsibility of corporate social responsibility offices.
The need for change in business education is increasingly driven by student demand. Robert Kennedy, the dean of Ivey Business School in Canada, stressed that students today are far more alert to current global challenges. “Today they want this reflected in their courses. We cannot ignore this trend,” he said.
A key question was how to integrate sustainability aspects into business programmes and executive management courses. Dominique Turpin, President of IMD business school in Switzerland, advocated for a global imperative to embed these critical components[AS1] into the core programmes. “CEOs of global players need to be driving the message, which is the approach IMD is taking.”
“We need to understand the position of business in society, not business setting itself apart from society,” said Arnold Smit, GRLI Board Member and Professor at the University of Stellenbosch Business School in South Africa, who moderated the session.
The discussants contributing to the session were Cecilie Hultmann, Sustainability Risk Manager at DNV GL Group, Norway; Robert Kennedy, Dean at Ivey Business School and GBSN Board Member, Canada; Dominique Turpin, President and Nestle Professor at IMD and EFMD Board Member, Switzerland; and James Zhan, Director, Investment and Enterprise at UNCTAD, in Geneva.
“It is essential that business schools embrace responsible business and make it applicable to their students’ interests and careers,” said Page Buchanan, Chief Operating Officer of GBSN. “Partnerships and conversations like these are critical to improving access to quality, globally relevant management education.
“The future success and relevance of business schools will depend largely on their ability to act as stewards or custodians of society and the planet. In doing so we envision three key roles for business schools and management educators – firstly to develop globally responsible leaders and practitioners, secondly to enable companies to serve the common good, and then to engage proactively in the necessary transformation towards inclusive economic systems.” John North, Managing Director, GRLI.
Event participants included Deans and Directors from leading business education institutions, including Stanford Institute for[AS3] Innovation in Developing Countries (USA), University of St. Gallen (Switzerland), ESADE Business School (Spain), Strathmore Business School (Kenya), Universidad de Desarollo (Colombia), University of Management and Technology (Pakistan), Nova SBE (Portugal), University of Sydney Business School (Australia), Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management (USA), Glasgow School of Business and Society (Scotland, UK), Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (Philippines), School of Economics and Management, Tongji University (China), Gordon Institute of Business Science (South Africa), and Grenoble Ecole de Management (France) among others. Also in attendance were representatives from business school associations including the Global Alliance in Management Education (CEMS) and Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME).
The Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative exists to catalyse the development of globally responsible leadership and practice in organisations and societies worldwide. It is the leading incubator for innovation and new practice in business schools and for collaboration with business in the space of ethics, responsibility, and sustainability. More at grli.org.
Global Business School Network tackles the developing world's severe shortage of management talent by expanding access to quality, locally relevant management education. GBSN harnesses the power of a network of over 70 leading business schools on five continents to foster cross-border knowledge exchange and collaboration through international events, capacity building programs and advocacy. More at gbsn.org.
UNCTAD’s Division of Investment and Enterprise is a global centre of excellence, dealing with issues related to investment and enterprise development in the United Nations System. It builds on three and a half decades of experience and international expertise in research and policy analysis, intergovernmental consensus-building and technical assistance to developing countries. More at unctad.org
About Business Schools for Impact
UNCTAD’s Division on Investment and Enterprise launched Business Schools for Impact, an initiative which creates a worldwide network of impact-oriented educators, practitioners and students who are committed to forging pro-development business solutions. The programme offers teaching materials, case studies, internships and other resources to equip future business leaders with an understanding of the opportunities in low-income markets and with the particular management expertise required to succeed in these regions. More at business-schools-for-impact.org.
John North, Managing Director, Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1.954.607.2149
Page Buchanan, COO, Global Business School Network, email@example.com, +1.202.677.8008