The Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI), as catalyst in the area of developing globally responsible leadership and practice in management education and business, participated in The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) event hosted by London Business School on Wednesday 27th May 2015.
During this event His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales encouraged business schools to incorporate accounting for sustainability in their MBA and research programmes and challenged business students themselves saying: “To all those current business school students — and to those who are deciding where to study — ask yourself, is your chosen business school really going to equip you to be the kind of leader that is so badly needed for the next 50 years? Nothing less will do.”
The GRLI was represented by Managing Director John North, together with deans of finance and accounting departments of business schools, accreditation bodies, journal editors, business leaders and members of the investment community concentrated on the areas for improvement of the system in the new economic era. Senior representatives of GRLI strategic partners, AACSB International and EFMD, were also in attendance.
The meeting considered the implications of the current challenges threatening the global economy such as natural resource constraints, climate change, social issues and conflicts and specifically the role of both the finance community and business education institutions in development, research and equipping business leaders with adequate skills. With reference to the business school ranking systems and role of mainstream academic journals participants highlighted some of the barriers to embedding sustainability into accounting and finance research and teaching within business schools.
In his online column at Forbes.com Dr Ioannis Ioannou summarised the joint understanding of the future role of management education which emerged from this discussion, also highlighted during the closing plenary by John North with reference to the 50+20 vision, as: “Educating responsible leaders, with a profound knowledge of business fundamentals as well as a deep understanding of the global environmental and social challenges.”
Reflecting on the challenges faced when trying to mainstream issues of sustainability in the accounting and finance areas, Prof. Carol Adams — GRLI Associate and founding editor of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal , a publication actively promoted by the GRLI, commented: “Currently consultants rather than universities are driving thought leadership influencing practice in the accounting profession. University (accounting) academics have, after all, been proactive in supporting rankings of academic journals which privilege research that supports the status quo in society rather than encouraging innovation. Most academic research in accounting is read only by other academics who must read it and reference it to get published themselves. Informing practice and policy is not a goal of such research. Only a handful of accounting academics are contributing to consultation papers put out by bodies supported by the accounting profession such as the International Integrated Reporting Council and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board. Very few accounting academics are publishing their findings through channels which will influence practice and policy such as professional and business journals. Business schools risk becoming irrelevant in these global and pressing debates which are changing accounting and reporting practice.”