Reframing the Purpose of Business Education: Crowding-in a Culture of Moral Self-Awareness

Journal of Management Inquiry 31 (1):15-29 (2022)
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Numerous high-profile ethics scandals, rising inequality, and the detrimental effects of climate change dramatically underscore the need for business schools to instill a commitment to social purpose in their students. At the same time, the rising financial burden of education, increasing competition in the education space, and overreliance on graduates’ financial success as the accepted metric of quality have reinforced an instrumentalist climate. These conflicting aims between social and financial purpose have created an existential crisis for business education. To resolve this impasse, we draw on the concept of moral self-awareness to offer a system-theoretical strategy for crowding-in a culture of ethics within business schools. We argue that to do so, business schools will need to (1) reframe the purpose of business, (2) reframe the meaning of professional success, and (3) reframe the ethos of business education itself.
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