Now, in classrooms across the country, business profs and their students have discussed Enron's collapse and Arthur Andersen's missteps, criminal mischief at Global Crossing and Tyco International, and Merrill Lynch's mea culpa after shilling for Internet stocks. They recognize that many of those running the faulted companies earned MBAs from the top programs in the U.S.
"Business schools deserve a great deal of scrutiny after what has happened," says Larry Penley, dean of the business school at Arizona State University and past chairman of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. "There is a great deal more we have to do, and there are multiple ways to go about it."
WHO'S LEARNING WHAT?
One way may be beefing up ethics instruction. Graduate business programs are required to teach ethics to be accredited, but the requirement is more of a guideline than a specific list of conditions. Accreditation doesn't mandate ethics classes; rather, graduate programs must incorporate the study of ethics into their curriculum. The guidelines are so loose, in fact, that it's unknown how many MBA programs require one or more ethics classes, how many offer them as electives, or how many simply include ethics discussions in other courses, such as accounting or finance.
This is not to say that ethics programs don't exist, because they do. Wharton's, which was overhauled in the early 1990s and includes courses taught by a philosopher, is regarded as one of the best in the world. Other smaller schools, such as Case Western Reserve's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, offer ethics classes to differentiate themselves from their better-known brethren. And schools affiliated with churches, such as Notre Dame's Mendoza School, often offer both ethics courses and extensive discussion of the subject in other classes.