Monday, October 24, 2011

MBA oath

In 2009, in the wake of the financial crisis for which b-schools and MBAs were held substantially responsible, Harvard students decided to start the practice of an MBA oath, whereby MBA students would commit themselves to certain standards of integrity. Around 250 b-schools have since signed on and 6,272 graduates have taken the oath. Two years on, enthusiasm for the oath is fading, FT reports. Only 300 of the HBS class of 2011 has signed the oath compared to 600 in 2009.

This is not surprising. As the FT article notes, it makes little sense for individual MBAs to take the oath when organisations they work for are not willing to observe the necessary standards. That apart, the commitments made in the oath are hardly measurable - and are seldom measured- except for the ones on correct reporting (taken care of by listing and other regulations) and on corrupt practices (covered by the necessary laws). The other items in the oath have to do with being a good or responsible person and that is neither enforceable nor is it widely practised.

Not to sound too cynical but one could argue that the whole of one's education, with its competitive element, and the whole of corporate life often requires individuals to act in ways that are contrary to what are contained in the oath- that is, if one wishes to succeed, as all good MBAs do. Take at a look at the oath and judge for yourself:


As a business leader I recognize my role in society.

• My purpose is to lead people and manage resources to create value that no single individual can create alone.

• My decisions affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and tomorrow.

Therefore, I promise that:

• I will manage my enterprise with loyalty and care, and will not advance my personal interests at the expense of my enterprise or society.

• I will understand and uphold, in letter and spirit, the laws and contracts governing my conduct and that of my enterprise.

• I will refrain from corruption, unfair competition, or business practices harmful to society.

• I will protect the human rights and dignity of all people affected by my enterprise, and I will oppose discrimination and exploitation.

• I will protect the right of future generations to advance their standard of living and enjoy a healthy planet.

• I will report the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.

• I will invest in developing myself and others, helping the management profession continue to advance and create sustainable and inclusive prosperity.

In exercising my professional duties according to these principles, I recognize that my behavior must set an example of integrity, eliciting trust and esteem from those I serve. I will remain accountable to my peers and to society for my actions and for upholding these standards.

This oath I make freely, and upon my honor.


Arun said...

I think this oath should be mandatory in each management college providing MBA degree so that students after completing the degree , this oath stops them from doing any wrong works.

Anonymous said...

@Arun, your idea is very noble; If An oath could stop people from doing wrong than We all would have been doing all the right things almost forever... because most of us are Taught Moral Values as early as our Kindergarten; moreover all our Politicians take oath the day they are appointed to a seat of responsibility (how many of them do you recall following it)