Business is, in fact, good for society. Working in harmony with the public and nonprofit sectors, business is an important player in solving the problems of the world and contributing to social justice. In fact, as the key driver of economic development, business has lifted more people out of poverty than philanthropy has. Further, it is the profit motive that spurs the business activities that lead to benefits for people, communities and society at large.
The contemporary business school must meet the needs of both its students and the surrounding business community. This emphasis on the positive role of business in society should lead to a commitment to a curriculum that is tailored to the local community and prepares students for placements in the region. That is what it means to be true partners with the business community.
Students need to be prepared for their vocations to lead business organizations that make useful products and provide needed services, create opportunities for dignified work and pay a return to their investors. A school’s goal should be to inspire students to embrace business as a positive force for social change and recognize and embrace their roles as the agents through which change can be achieved.
The fact that business is self-interested need not conflict with business outcomes that positively impact society. Business owners, for example, make products and services that people want or need. They employ people, helping them become self-sufficient, not out of kindness, but because employees actually add value to their businesses. Self-interest is and should be a motivator in business and not a source of shame or embarrassment.
Increasingly, the value of higher education, especially graduate education in business, is questioned. A prospective student may wonder, “Why get an MBA?”
The Master of Business Administration, or MBA, experience enables employees to be better prepared to lead their organizations and become leaders in their communities. MBA programs prepare people to be leaders by teaching them the basics of business, helping them learn how to think critically to solve problems and how to integrate ethics and social responsibility when making business decisions.
Employers make an investment in workforce development when they encourage and help an employee go through an MBA program. It is win-win, as the employee/student gains critical business knowledge and invaluable networking experiences across the entire business community.
Kathleen Getz, Ph.D., is dean of Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management, which has campuses in Columbia, Timonium and Baltimore City. She can be reached at 410-617-2301 or [email protected].