More MBA Programs Focusing on Socially Responsible Business

Thousands enroll in business school each year to learn how to make the world a better place

During the late 1970s, Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus responded to widespread poverty and famine in his country by starting a bank with the sole purpose of giving small loans to poor villagers. Since then, Grameen Bank has grown into a self-sustaining institution with over seven million clients. Yunus’s formula for social change: a good idea, determination and entrepreneurial skill.

Even before Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, the idea of “social entrepreneurship” – the application of entrepreneurial principles to address social issues – was catching on in both the non-profit and business sectors. Today, many people are turning to business school to learn how to lead world-changing initiatives of their own, as founders of non-profits, philanthropists, or as corporate leaders.

Several of the world’s top-ranked business schools – including Stanford, Oxford, NYU, ESADE and Harvard – have responded to this demand, and now offer dedicated programs and concentrations for students interested in the so-called triple bottom line – planet, people and (um…oh yeah) profit. These programs teach and refine the skills needed to grow, sustain and spread socially conscious initiatives.

“Social Entrepreneurship is a hot topic at business schools right now,“ says Rich Leimsider of the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program. The institute’s bi-annual survey of MBA programs, Beyond Grey Pinstripes, will come out in the fall of 2007, and is expected to reflect a “dramatic increase“ in the number and variety of social entrepreneurship courses offered by business schools.

“There has been a multi-fold increase in the amount of core business courses we've seen this year that address Social Entrepreneurship in some capacity,” says Leimsider. “Student interest doubtlessly plays some role.”

According to the University Network for Social Entrepreneurship, social enterprise was the number two area of interest (behind finance) for the 2006 incoming MBA class at Columbia Business School. CBS has built up a Social Enterprise Program that offers concentrations in social entrepreneurship, public and non-profit management, international development and corporate social responsibility, along with courses in healthcare, education, arts management, community development and venture philanthropy.

This trend in business schools may also reach students who plan on returning to the corporate sector after finishing their MBA. Programs like the Center for Responsible Business at Haas School of Business (Berkeley) and the Institute for Corporate Responsibility at George Washington University, for example, focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR).

CSR has become increasingly in demand as some of the world’s biggest corporations scramble to improve relations with shareholders and the general public. According to Forbes magazine, over half of all MBA programs – regardless of their focus - now require students to complete a course in corporate social responsibility.

Many students, however, begin MBA programs with the idea of starting something of their own – anything from a small non-profit in their hometown to a large, sustainable initiative that reaches thousands of people. Ashoka, a global support network of social innovators, defines a social entrepreneur as someone that applies new ideas to affect wide-scale change - not an easy task.

According to Gregory Dees, chair of the Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke’s Fuqua Business School, MBA programs can introduce students to valuable skills they can apply to the non-profit sector.

"Business doesn't know better than the non-profit world,“ Dees told Time magazine back in 2005. “It just provides another set of tools that we should look at using for social good. And we should use any tools we can."

Photo: JimW-Sustainability 76 / Creative Commons (cropped)

Comments


Related Business Schools

Berkeley, California 76 Followers 108 Discussions
Oxford, United Kingdom 55 Followers 237 Discussions
Madrid, Spain 5 Followers 133 Discussions
Barcelona, Spain 47 Followers 210 Discussions
London, United Kingdom 126 Followers 412 Discussions
Boston, Massachusetts 62 Followers 197 Discussions
Durham, North Carolina 42 Followers 97 Discussions
New York City, New York 146 Followers 238 Discussions
New York City, New York 138 Followers 232 Discussions
Washington, District of Columbia 32 Followers 67 Discussions
Stanford, California 75 Followers 163 Discussions
San Francisco, California 7 Followers 7 Discussions

MBA News

Jul 12, 2019

Yale Announces Master's Degree in Asset Management

Jul 12, 2019

More MBA News

More MBA Articles

The Importance of Soft Skills: MBA Programs Push Emotional Intelligence Courses

Jul 09, 2019

Soft skills such as empathy, building trust and influencing people are just as valuable to MBAs as calculating valuations and debt to asset ratios

How to Get an MBA Degree for Free: Scholarships and Other Funding Sources

Jul 01, 2019

Generous and plentiful MBA scholarships are on offer, while work placements can offset the cost of business degree programs

MBA Return on Investment: Intangible Returns Beyond a Big Salary Boost

Jun 19, 2019

Financial ROI is important, but today’s thinking has it that there’s far more nuanced and intangible returns that you get from an MBA

More Articles

Related Top 10 Lists

More Top 10 Lists