Mainstreaming Corporate Social Responsibility at the Core of the Business School Curriculum

Mainstreaming Corporate Social Responsibility at the Core of the Business School Curriculum

Dima Jamali (American University of Beirut, Lebanon) and Hanin Abdallah (American University of Beirut, Lebanon)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7476-9.ch013
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

Extant literature has highlighted that business schools have been accused of promoting an educational ethos that emphasizes shareholder value and the pursuit of short-term profits, thereby preparing overly competitive future generations interested in profit maximization. This chapter highlights the importance of integrating CSR into the mainstream of business schools' curricula, arguing for the responsible role that business schools should play and emphasizing the strategic case for such integration. The chapter analyzes the main challenges and opportunities that both hinder and facilitate mainstreaming of CSR at the heart of the business school curriculum and the role that the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) can potentially play as a facilitating factor and driving force. The chapter illustrates these drivers and constraints in the context of one specific business school in Lebanon that has successfully experimented with CSR mainstreaming in recent years.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

The corporate scandals of the 1990s and the financial crisis at the end of the last decade have been shocking to business observers and triggered much debate and introspection. At the heart of these debates are questions pertaining to the root causes of these failures and, as importantly, the role of business schools as agents of change in the context of management education and business practice (Machold & Huse, 2010). Have business schools done what they can to prevent the current economic setbacks and the crisis in confidence in business education? Have they done due diligence in promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mainstreaming and alleviating the strong entrenchment of the utilitarian perspectives or economic paradigms permeating management education (Ghoshal, 2005)? This book chapter will ponder these questions more systematically, making the case for CSR mainstreaming as an imperative in the context of best practice in management education. We argue that CSR mainstreaming is important to restore the societal legitimacy and trust in business and to ensure sustainable outcomes for society in the long-term that do not jeopardize human survival and the well-being of future generations (Scherer, Palazzo & Seidl, 2013).

There is in fact what has been referred to as a crisis of confidence in business, with citizens around the globe losing faith in prevailing economic models and financial systems (Adams, 2012). The most recent manifestation of this soaring loss of confidence in business was the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which was a nationwide boycott of banks in the US in light of Bank of America’s announcement in 2011 that they would start charging customers $5 a month to use their debit cards. Capitalism, as we know it, has come under increasing attack and questioning, with various alternative models being advocated, including Conscious Capitalism or what Bill Gates refers to as Creative Capitalism, a new strand of capitalism that places social needs and human needs as primary goals of economic activity (Harvard Magazine, 2008). In light of these changing realities, some have gone so far as advocating for the need for alternative management theories and educational experiences that preserve the centrality of human dignity while also providing solutions to the complex and rampant social inequities and environmental degradation, thus helping to bridge the gap between the economic and social in orienting the decision making of for- profit, non-profit and government organizations (Porter & Kramer, 2011).

At the heart of these debates are questions pertaining to the root causes of these failures and, as importantly, to the role of business schools as agents of change in the context of management education and business practice (Machold & Huse, 2010). Given the complex and multi-faceted nature of business decisions, and their increasingly visible implications for society, there has been mounting pressure on business schools to redefine their role and to design programs and curricula addressing the issue of social responsibility (Anderson, 2004; Schwartz, Kassem, & Ludwig, 1991). Have business schools done what they can to avoid the recent economic setbacks and the crisis in confidence in business education? Why are business school curricula lagging behind the changing realities? How can they reflect the new intellectual challenges, ask the right questions and provide students with both the mindset and the tools to address interdisciplinary problems in the context of global interconnectedness? Are business schools overwhelmed by their own challenges? Are they struggling to walk the talk like many business organizations and remain close to their own societies and communities (Kiron et al., 2013)? Have they been diligent in promoting CSR mainstreaming and alleviating the strong entrenchment of utilitarian perspectives or economic paradigms permeating management education (Ghoshal, 2005)? This book chapter will ponder these questions, making the case that CSR mainstreaming is an imperative in the context of best practice in management education and that it should be anchored in the context of a vision for responsible leadership and responsible education at the level of the business school.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Utilitarian paradigms: Management Principles based on purely economic and profit objectives.

CSR Integration: The process and method of incorporating CSR into the curriculum.

Mainstreaming CSR: Considering CSR as an integral and relevant topic at the core of the business curriculum.

Accreditation: Process of obtaining approval of a school’s programs by an internationally renowned accrediting institution to gain global legitimacy and recognition.

Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME): The UN ten principles that set a framework for business schools to act as facilitator and supporter of CSR and integrating it in management education.

Curriculum: The subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset