The Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit
The Weatherhead School of Management
Case Western Reserve University
Business Educators Call for Change
Weatherhead's Cooperrider says biggest opportunities exist in
sustainable value creation
NEW YORK—In the midst of the most severe financial crisis of our lifetimes, management educators gathered at the United Nations in New York on December 4 and 5. They asserted that social responsibility in business has never been more important and that management education must adapt to today's business challenges and opportunities.
The 'Global Forum for Responsible Management Education' brought together more than 300 supporters of the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME), a UN-sponsored framework to champion responsible management education, research, and leadership globally.
"The long-term growth of business is tied to its environmental and social impact," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his address to the forum. "The corporate responsibility movement is driven by our need to find solutions to pressing global challenges."
David Cooperrider, Fairmount Minerals Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, gave the opening address for an earlier session on new learning methods.
"Sustainable value creation is the business opportunity of the 21st century," he said. "It's also the biggest business school opportunity of our time."
Participants shared teaching methods and projects that place environmental and social responsibility into the core of business school education. Cooperrider cited Weatherhead's World Inquiry, a collection of 2,000 interviews and stories on sustainable business innovations. Other speakers noted their schools' partnerships with businesses, non-profits, and communities. Socially-minded study abroad programs were also highlighted as key to curriculum reinventions: MBA students have rebuilt businesses in war-torn countries and have created sustainable business models for isolated Indonesian villages.
Cooperrider called these and others "daring" projects and said: "Future business schools will look more like design schools and will be alive with design studios, interdisciplinary teams, and rapid prototyping. Managers will act as designers who recognize disruptive, unexpected innovation opportunities."
The theme "Manage by Designing" will be expanded upon at the Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, to be held on June 2-5, 2009. Cooperrider will lead that forum at Case Western Reserve University. He expects the action-oriented event to be an innovation factory, a catalyst for exciting prototypes.
The PRME was, in fact, a direct outcome of the First Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, held at Case Western Reserve University in October 2006. The PRME was instituted in 2007 at the United Nations and has been signed by 182 organizations. The document is a call for educators to adapt their curricula, research, teaching methodologies, and institutional strategies to today's business challenges and opportunities.
David Cooperrider is the Fairmount Minerals Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. He is also the Chair of the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at Weatherhead: http://worldbenefit.case.edu/
For more information on the PRME, visit http://www.unprme.org/