It was a speech designed to calm markets, and what better podium than Wall Street? "At this moment, America's greatest economic need is higher ethical standards - standards enforced by strict laws and upheld by responsible business leaders," President George W. Bush said barely 15 seconds
into the speech, and he called on businesspeople to uphold "the values of our country" more than a dozen times before he finished.
With all the various governmental and legal reforms the president proposed to stem the tide of corporate scandal, in the end he lay the responsibil-ity for honesty in business at the feet of businesspeople themselves. And President Bush called on business schools to shape the U.S. business conscience, saying, "Our schools of business must be principled teachers of right and wrong, and not surrender to moral confusion and relativism."
Says Anjani Jain, vice dean at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, "It's a problem that every business school has to address."
WHAT'S THE PROBLEM
Opinions aside, three studies, undertaken over the past year by different groups with different agendas, illustrate the state of mind of today's MBA grads:
- Just one-third of graduating students at 13 leading MBA programs said providing high-quality goods and services should be a high priority for U.S. businesses, while 75 percent said the goal should be maximizing shareholder value. This study, conducted by Aspen Institute's Initiative for Social Innovation through Business, found that these students felt differently as incoming students, and changed their minds while earning their degrees.