Educating for Practical Wisdom, Teaching What Cannot Be Taught: Critical Reflections on Fostering Wisdom in Business Schools

Educating for Practical Wisdom, Teaching What Cannot Be Taught: Critical Reflections on Fostering Wisdom in Business Schools

Saif Allah Allouani, Abla Berrada
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-7869-1.ch009
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This chapter addresses the critical need for education for wisdom in business and management education. After a critical review of the outcomes of the traditional pedagogical tenet, an operational framework for practical wisdom education is proposed, suggesting three components of wisdom learning: wise knowing, wise feeling, and wise judging. The second part of the chapter discusses the challenges of implementing wisdom education in the business school context. First, the authors highlight the requisite paradigm shift from knowledge-driven learning toward wisdom-driven one and then present some initiatives for fostering practical wisdom in the business classroom. The chapter concludes by gesturing toward possible avenues for future research and empirical inquiry into wisdom teaching practices.
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Introduction: The Traditional Teaching Dogma And The Need For Practical Wisdom

Every year, business schools worldwide churn out overconfident graduates, over reliant on their ability to use scientific knowledge to deal with real-life organizational and societal problems. This is how the education-to-job pipeline has managed to fit the job market by teaching people specific knowledge for a given professional track.

Business school programs are built on the premise that students should acquire technical capabilities and scientifically grounded methods to deal with real-life managerial and business issues. Thus, a cursory examination of the dominant teaching curriculum in business schools reveals the overemphasizing of analytical tools, inducing that management situation can be apprehended as neat technical problems (Raelin, 2017). This focus on enshrined scientific solutions comes at the expense of other approaches, such as character education, ethic, and practical wisdom (Bennis & O'Toole, 2005). This percept is criticized by many thinkers and researchers (Flyberg, 2001; Ghoshal, 2005; Pfeffer & Fong, 2004; Sandberg & Tsoukas, 2011), who question the capacity of business graduates to deal effectively with the complexity and ambiguity of the world. Given the ecological, ethical, and political mayhem caused by highly educated business leaders, it is legitimate to raise the question: Do business graduates learn enough wisdom in university to allow them to manage wisely, let alone live accordingly?

Some scholars argue that management students trained to become executors of economic and organizational management theories and principles are causing bad corporate governance and moral decline (Baden & Higgs, 2015; Ghoshal, 2005). The dearth of character education is problematic regarding the pedagogical pattern of management curricula and the outcomes of such design. Students seem to learn the wrong things in the wrong ways because they are being taught the wrong things in the wrong ways (Schwartz, 2010). Education that puts much stock on knowledge and technical skills can be detrimental to individual and societal welfare. It hinders compassion and common good orientation and reinforces cultural, political, and economic forces that shape students into alienated empty suits (Taleb, 2008), relentlessly competing with others to pursue unexamined and market-manipulated desires.

In recent years, a growing stream of organizational research has sought to shift the goal and the process of business school education away from information transfer and toward holistic wisdom-oriented approaches (McKenna & Rooney, 2014; Nonaka & Toyama, 2007; Schwartz, 2010; Sternberg, 2001). Over the world, numerous universities are considering developing character-based and ethically driven approaches to deal with modern society's increasingly complex and wicked problems. Educating for practical wisdom is a deliberate effort by institutions to assist students in developing expertise in fundamental pragmatics of business life (Baltes & Staudinger, 2000; Brooks et al., 2019; Chia & Holt, 2008; Schwartz, 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Educator: A professor with the will and the ability to think and act in phenomenological way with his students in managerial context.

Virtue Ethic: The set of character strengths (e.g., wisdom, courage, integrity, and generosity) which allow to act with morality and to lead a good life.

Morality: One's willingness and capability to discern the right from the wrong in a situation and act according to their moral values.

Practical Wisdom (Phronesis): One's ability to perceive, deliberate, and act judiciously in a situation, considering the different interests and seeking the common good. It includes the wise knowing, the wise feeling, and the wise judging for one's wise doing.

Wise Person (Phronemoi): Person who knows how to use appropriately their knowledge in a situation according to its specifities; they are ready to assume and learn from the experience.

Character: Particular combination of inherent psychological and moral qualities that defines one's individual nature and attitude.

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