There is a lack of alignment between business schools and the need for the next generation of business leaders to address social and environmental issues, according to Bruno Roche, Chief Economist at Mars, Incorporated and Catalyst MD. Speaking at the Responsible Business Forum: Making Business Mutual at Oxford Saïd on 12 May, Roche criticised current business models that failed to deal with the realities of scarcities to the detriment of societies at large.
Now its second year, the Responsible Business Forum brings together global companies to share their experience of tackling key challenges in their ecosystems to generate financial, social and environmental value at scale – the core of what it termed ‘mutuality.’ Led by Colin Mayer CBE, Peter Moores Professor of Management Studies at Oxford Saïd, the Forum is a core module on the Oxford MBA programme and designed to deepen students’ understanding of the relationship between business and society particularly as they face new challenges and ways of working.
‘We need a paradigm shift in this area to change not only business practice but also the intellectual agenda,’ said Professor Mayer. ‘So long as business education continues to preach the Friedman doctrine then we’re in no better position to change practice than in the past. We need to recognise that the management change that’s needed cannot be incidental, it has to be intentional and a core part of business going forward.’ Professor Mayer called for more business schools to collaborate with companies and to understand business models that are succeeding in delivering on financial, human, natural, and social capital.
Nearly 300 MBA students attended the Forum alongside key organisations such as Mars, Dell and M&S who led case studies and masterclasses to share examples of mutual approaches to business through appropriate forms of ownership, governance, leadership, measurement, and management. The day culminated in an Oxford style debate that discussed the motion: ‘This house would oppose the enforcement of mutuality in business.’
Maren Mende, a current MBA student at Oxford Saïd and banker by profession, praised the Forum for tackling the issues. ‘What I find encouraging is I’m surrounded by a cohort of students, friends and faculty who feel and think the same way and have the collective power, as we spread out across industries and geographies, to take business on its final step on its journey towards mutuality.’
Mars co-sponsored the event which is part of a multi-year research programme with Oxford Saïd to explore how to codify a mutual business model and quantify its impacts on business and society.
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