Responsible Management Education in Practice: The Principles and Processes for Educating Socially Responsible and World Engaged Leaders

Responsible Management Education in Practice: The Principles and Processes for Educating Socially Responsible and World Engaged Leaders

Marco Tavanti
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-510-6.ch031
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The Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) offer a platform for institutional commitment and leadership engagement toward business ethics and poverty alleviation. The author reviews the principles in light of a need for a renewed management education centered on social responsibility, sustainability and partnership values. The PRME present a possibility for universities to engage with United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other multi-stakeholder partnerships. The participating institutions share a commitment for a renewed management education where private organizations become positive agents for world benefit. The process of adopting and integrating the PRME into existing programs and curricula is instrumental for educating ethical, sustainable, and socially responsible leaders for the 21st century.
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Responsible management education is both a challenge and an opportunity. The time has come for business schools and public service management programs to center their education around global challenges of sustainability and poverty reduction. Social responsibility and ethics are no longer electives in the business of adequately preparing 21st century leaders (Gasparski, 2008). Social responsibility pertains to all stakeholders but it begins with a value-based commitment of management faculty and program administrators. Academia can therefore provide opportunities to learn appropriate competencies for developing globally responsible leaders and promoting organizational practices for world benefits, actively contributing to poverty eradication, replenishing and restoring nature, and building foundations for peace (BAWB, 2006). These renewed management values are already priorities among the 363 academic institutions and programs (as of April 2011) who adopted the Principles of Responsible Management Education (abbreviated PRME and pronounced PRIME). Developed in 2007 by the academic institutions connected to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the adoption of principles create opportunities for participating academic institutions to exchange best practices in teaching, learning and engaging for world benefit.

The idea of the PRME was introduced by the UNGC at the Global Forum “Business as an Agent of World Benefit” at Case Western Reserve University in October 2006. Inspired by the internationally accepted business values of the 10 principles of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the PRME offer a boost for making management education an engaged, responsible and sustainable response to world poverty and inclusive development. The PRME were developed in July 2007 by an international task force consisting of 60 deans, university presidents and official representatives of leading business schools (PRME, 2007). At their official launch during the Global Compact Leaders Summit in Geneva, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that ‘The Principles for Responsible Management Education have the capacity to take the case for universal values and business into classrooms on every continent’ (Forray & Leigh, 2010).

Today, PRME represents a growing movement of academic institutions and management programs committed to the promotion and integration of socially responsible principles and practices. They represent a platform for dialogue and implementation of social responsibility in education and for making management education relevant to local and global poverty reduction and sustainable development. Social responsibility and sustainability are not a fashion in management education (Christensen, Peirce, Hartman, Hoffman, & Carrier, 2007). They reflect fundamental shifts in our societies and economic systems that will surely develop in the years to come. The PRME offer an engagement model for management schools and academic institutions who want to stay “ahead of the curve” by integrating sustainability and social responsibility into their learning outcomes and programs (PRME, 2011b).

Key Terms in this Chapter

World Benefit: It implies leadership and commitment toward producing positive impact to the planet, people and the economy and promoting initiatives for poverty alleviation, peace building and the promotion of human rights.

UNGC: The United Nations Global Compact conveys businesses, academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations and inter-governmental agencies and programmes of the United Nations around ten principles the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.

Social Responsibility: An ethical theory that an individual, organization, or institution (including a university) has the obligation to act positively act to benefit society at large. Although some interpret it simply as passive value, avoiding engaging in socially harmful acts, it includes an active obligation to perform activities that directly advance social goals.

MDGs: The United Nations Millennium Development Goals include eight international development goals and 21 targets that all 192 United Nations Member States have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. The goals include eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease epidemics such as AIDS, and developing a global partnership for achieving sustainable development worldwide.

Social Engagement: A concept referring to the individual, collective or institutional relations or involvements with some elements of society particularly communities and social service organizations.

Academic Social Responsibility: A concept extending the educational mission of academic institutions into actively engaging for the benefits of society though teaching, research, service and partnerships.

Sustainable Education: A concept that involves active academic participation to create economic, social and environmental programs improving life standards, generating empowerment and respecting interdependence.

Poverty Reduction: Also called poverty alleviation, is a process which seeks to reduce economic and non-economic poverty levels in groups of people, communities or countries. Poverty reduction strategies may include program in education, health, entrepreneurship, technology, income redistribution and various forms of economic development.

PRME: The six Principles for Responsible Management Education. They are about purpose, values, method, research, partnership and dialogue to implement socially responsible organizational practices as models for students.

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