Submitted by Net Impact
SAN FRANCISCO, CA. - March 11, 2009 - As business leaders struggle to guide their companies through the current economic turmoil and regain the public trust in their ability to do so, future leaders are thinking about what they are learning in business school and wondering if they will have the skills necessary to navigate future crises.
"New Leaders, New Perspectives: A Survey of MBA Student Opinions on the Relationship Between Business and Social/Environmental Issues," finds that students have mixed feelings about how well they are being prepared to manage such challenges. Conducted in the last months of 2008 by Net Impact in partnership with the Aspen Institute Center for Business Education, the survey gathered the opinions of 1,850 MBA students, representing over 80 graduate business programs. Nine out of ten respondents say that a focus in business on short-term rather than long-term results has been one of the contributing factors to the global financial crisis. Just 24% of respondents strongly agree that they are learning how to make business decisions that will help avert similar crises. In addition, a majority of the students surveyed strongly agree that there is a need for business schools to introduce other financial models into the curriculum, specifically models that take long-term social impacts into account.
"The costs of short-term focus in business are no longer a subject for debate. The reality of its toll on the economy is painfully obvious, from Wall Street to Main Street," says Judith Samuelson, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program. "Students are right to be concerned about what they are learning, since it will be their responsibility as future business leaders to help restore the financial health of and public trust in U.S. business."
"It is clear that the next generation of business leaders realize that the resources and skills that business can provide are crucial to solving the problems facing our world," says Liz Maw, Executive Director of Net Impact. "More importantly, they also recognize that being socially responsible is a profitable business practice and are eager to use their business skills to create positive global change."
The survey also reveals that MBA students see issues such as healthcare, energy consumption and sources of energy, and the quality of public education as very important factors for CEOs of U.S. corporations. Yet, they say that their business schools place moderate or little emphasis on these challenges.
In addition, respondents agree that the curriculum at their schools should include more content related to sustainability and corporate responsibility. And, while less than a third of the students surveyed believe that corporations are working towards the betterment of society, they definitely think that the for-profit sector should play a role in addressing social and environmental issues and that being responsible leads to corporate profits.
While the current financial crisis has many students re-thinking their career objectives, most respondents to the survey feel that their job prospects upon completion of their degree are very good. That optimism wanes, however, the closer they get to graduation.
An executive summary, as well as the full report of the survey, can be found at http://www.netimpact.org/perspectives
About Net Impact
Net Impact is a global organization of students and professionals using business to improve the world.
We offer a portfolio of programs and initiatives to educate, equip and inspire our more than 10,000 members to make a tangible difference through business. Spanning six continents, our membership is one of the most influential networks of students and professionals in existence today and includes current and emerging leaders in corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, international development and environmental sustainability. The Net Impact network includes over 200 chapters in cities throughout the world and a central office in San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.netimpact.org.
About the Aspen Institute Center for Business Education
The Aspen Institute Center for Business Education (AspenCBE.org) equips business leaders for the 21st century with a new management paradigm-the vision and knowledge to integrate corporate profitability with social value. To that end, it provides educators with cutting edge classroom resources and creates peer networks to incorporate social and environmental stewardship into teaching, research and curriculum development. Aspen CBE is part of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, an organization dedicated to developing leaders for a sustainable global society.
Net Impact is a global nonprofit inspiring a new generation to use their careers to tackle the world’s toughest social and environmental problems. We empower student and professional leaders to act locally through our vibrant chapter network and connect globally online and through our flagship conference. By 2020, we will mobilize a million new leaders to drive positive change in the workplace and the world. For more information, please visit netimpact.org.
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