May 16, 2019
12:45 - 14:00
Vaes room - Doyen Building
Research Seminar by Prof. Lovasoa RAMBOARISATA, Université du Québec à Montréal
For the last two decades, the teaching of Ethics, Corporate social responsibility, and Sustainability (ECS) has hiked. That development has been part of the growing belief among business schools and their stakeholders that responsible management education (RME) should be fulfilled. Within the community of business educators, there is a consensus that the question is not about whether or not future managers’ training should include knowledge in ECS but “how it can be mainstreamed?” (Moon & Orlitzky, 2011; Akrivou & Bradbury-Huang, 2015) and “in which conditions it can effectively change behaviour?” (Lund Dean & Beggs, 2006; Baden, 2014), most especially in turbulent times as the one we are currently in. As Anderson, Hibbert, Mason, & Rivers (2018) reminded: “(…) business schools and management educators are in a unique position to influence current and future managers to both respond to and initiate change in the face of societal change because it manifests itself strongly in organizational life.” (p. 430). Similarly, business schools’ major stakeholders have required that business teachers educate future leaders about their responsibilities toward the society. For example, results of the PricewaterhouseCoopers’ worldwide CEOs’survey showed that business executives expect business curricula to develop the mindsets and skills needed to address mega-social trends (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2017). A recent study conducted by IPSOS, Boston Consulting Group and the Conférence des Grandes Écoles also revealed that business schools’ alumni find more pride in managing fair and responsible projects and businesses than in earning top salaries (IPSOS, BCG, & CGE, 2018).
Business schools have been responsive to calls for more ECS teaching. The years following the famous corporate scandals, stand-alone ethics’ courses increased at a rapid rate (Christensen, Pierce, Hartman, Hoffmann, & Carrier, 2007). Currently, business students in different continents benefit from an exposure to ECS content (Zhou, Ou, & Enderle 2009; Moon & Orlitzky, 2011; Petrick, Cragg, & Sanudo, 2011; Pezoa Bissières, Herl , & Paz, 2011; Rossouw, 2011 ; Rehman, Kashif, & Mingione, 2017).
Paradoxically, a problem noticed a few years ago (Lapointe and Gendron, 2005, Waddock, 2007) is persisting. A change of paradigm has not really occurred. As Petrick, Cragg, & Sanudo (2011) explained: «Themes in North-American training in business ethics largely indicate an acceptance of the status quo business context and preparation to adjust to and operate within that status quo. There is limited critical analysis (…).» (p. 58). Even beyond North-America, the extant content and pedagogy are founded on the utilitarian discourse, the business-case logics, and the neoliberal narrative1. This trend locks ECS classes in a mindset “focused primarily on a antiquated way of thinking” (Laszlo, Sroufe, & Waddock, 2017, p. 108), eluding the complex and critical nature of issues managers have to deal with in today’s globalized setting. Such a way of thinking does not allow the development of competencies, which future managers will need in order to contribute to the attainment of contemporary collective objectives such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This situation is somewhat strange given that ECS is supposed to be more attuned to the postulates of the critical paradigm than any other field in the business scholarship. Despite calls and repetitive discussions and vehement criticisms, questions about why the situation is so, what have been the main barriers to change, and why these barriers persist remain seldom examined empirically. Those are exactly the ones this paper addresses. It aims at understanding, from the point of view of educators, the meaning of a non-utilitarian approach to ECS teaching, the barriers to their development and to their sustaining. Getting empirical insight about the reason for such a status quo may help address the barriers and spur the needed change.
Slides of the presentation, courtesy of Prof. Ramboarisata