CSR MBA programs: shifting attitudes | TopMBA.com

CSR MBA programs: shifting attitudes

By QS Contributor

Updated July 19, 2014 Updated July 19, 2014

TopMBA.com looks at the increasing popularity of CSR MBA programs.

The QS Global 200 Business Schools Report 2012

The role of corporate social responsibility (CSR) MBA programs is rapidly evolving as a result of the economic difficulties over the past five years.

After the global recession at the end of the last decade, some, rightly or wrongly, placed blame at the doors of business schools for failing to ingrain the importance of CSR values on their alumni. Further, protests around the world against the perceived greed fostered in some industries shows a global population becoming increasingly frustrated with a lack of consideration of CSR in business.

Will McDonald, European director of academic programs at Thunderbird School of Management explains the value of CSR to business: “The game has changed—it is essential that all managers consider full stakeholder value over the long-term. Customers seek it, communities in which we operate insist on it, and your clients, business partners and even employees will hold you accountable for making a positive contribution.”

With such importance being placed on how companies and organizations add to the world they exist in, there is a strong argument for general MBA rankings to incorporate measurements of CSR into their methodology.

“Our school’s president, Dr Angel Cabrera, often challenges the industry, saying that even the business school rankings will eventually also have to change, to put more weight in measuring the global impact of a school or program, and not focus as heavily on individuals’ post-MBA salaries… the scale of the world’s challenges are simply too big for focusing so heavily on individual success.”

Here, the QS Global 200 Business School Report’s CSR rating shows a dominance of schools in North America and Europe excelling, through the eyes of MBA employers, in producing graduates that take into account aspects of CSR in their day-to-day business operations. However, business schools in the Asia-Pacific region are showing significant promise, with eight appearing in this year’s rating. Four of these are located in India, ensuring that future business leaders in the country’s rapidly evolving economy are encouraged to consider the impact of the decisions they make on the wider community, at home and further afield.

Business schools that have impressed employers in the teaching of CSR values to their MBAs, and therefore made considerable improvements in this year’s rating include:

Michael G Foster School of Business;
Thunderbird School of Global Management;
Johns Hopkins Carey Business School;
Indian School of Business;
Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta;
Lancaster University Management School.

Though CSR is fundamentally about the way that corporations address their responsibility to the communities that they are a part of, it is also the case that from a profitability stance, MBA graduates who are able to bring in elements of CSR into their business practices are valuable.

Sherryl Kuhlman, managing director at The Wharton School’s program for social impact explains that, “far from being a drain on the bottom line, corporate social responsibility can increase profitability by playing a vital role in both risk management and innovation. Wharton research, for instance, demonstrates that initial investment in developing good relationships with stakeholders can have a significant financial payoff by preventing protests, work stoppages, and employee turnover. And many corporations find that social impact issues such as supply chain analysis, partnerships with social enterprises, and ‘bottom of the pyramid’ approaches can serve as true drivers for innovation.”

William Kooser, associate dean for students at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, which climbed an impressive 23 places in this year’s CSR rating agrees. He explains that “Business leaders are increasingly aware of the role that their organizations play in addressing many of the world’s major issues, such as health care, the environment, energy, and economic development.

“Business will ultimately drive success in these areas, and those leaders who understand these issues and can develop appropriate services and products to address them will not only create successful organizations, but will also help build a better world. Knowledge and awareness of CSR are critical to success.”


This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in July 2014

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