Responsible Management Education: UN Principles
January 11, 2012 1 Comment
What is the Purpose of Management Education?
The purpose of management education is obviously to develop capable and responsible managers. But what does that mean?
Does it mean:
- Responsible profitability?
- Service to society?
- Economic development?
How Do We Know What to Teach?
The UN Principles for Responsible Management Education guide us so that we can be sure that we are incorporating the global principles of responsible management into our teaching and training. They provide clarity about the values we should focus on when teaching managers.
Principle 1 provides a great deal of clarity about the purpose and scope of our teaching:
Principle 1 | Purpose: We will develop the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society at large and to work for an inclusive and sustainable global economy.
Principles 2 through 6 provide guidance about how to achieve that purpose through Values, Method, Research, Partnership and Dialogue.
Our Clear Responsibility
If we had no guidelines, we’d be left to determine just what we wanted responsible business management to mean. Because these guidelines exist for us as educators, we are now compelled to stretch beyond whatever definition of “responsible management and leadership” we are now using to incorporate this broader global definition.
There is no longer a place for the kind of management and leadership training that teaches only how to make money while following the law. There is so much more required of us that it is irresponsible to teach only profitability and law to the exclusion of other variables like sustainability and service to society that are important for our global future.
“We urge business schools to adopt the Principles and organizations to balance their economic and social objectives.”
As Teachers and Trainers, We Need to Be Role Models for Others
When teaching managers and leaders in universities and corporations, we need to be sure that we are teaching the global values that will serve leaders well in our connected society. When we do, we are demonstrating and modeling responsible leadership and preparing leaders to be part of the solution as we solve problems that cross organizations, continents and disciplines.
“The Principles for Responsible Management Education have the capacity to take the case for universal values and business into classrooms on every continent.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, quoted on unprme.org
Questions for Discussion:
1. How well does our management and leadership education align with the UN Principles?
2. What are the major differences between what we are teaching and the UN Principles?
3. How will we realign what we do to be in line with the UN Principles?
4. How will our realignment with UN Principles help the leaders we teach be more responsible corporate and global citizens?
Linda Fisher Thornton is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies. She is also CEO/Owner of Leading in Context LLC, a consulting firm helping business leaders lead responsibly in a complex world.
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