Part 1 of 3 on Global Responsibility during and after crisis
By Milenko Gudić
Milenko is Founding Director Refoment Consulting and Coaching, Belgrade, Serbia and Co-chair, PRME Working Group on Poverty, a Challenge for Management Education
Editor’s Note: On 19 October, Milenko Gudić chaired a panel at the 7th Responsible Management Education Research (RME) Conference called “Building RME implementation Coalitions for impact in the Decade of Action”. Joining Milenko were John North, GRLI Executive Director; Florencia Librizzi, Head of Program and Partnerships, UN SDSN, Peter McKiernan, Global Director of the MBA for the Business School, University of Strathclyde; Dan LeClair, CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN); Ivo Matser, Chief Executive Officer, ABIS; and Matthew Wood, Director, Operations & Global Focus Magazine Editor, EFMD. Speaking of the event, he said, “The RMER conference initiative, being based on mutual respect and trust, enabled so many people to go beyond expanding their professional and institutional networks and build also great and everlasting personal friendship.”
During preparations for the event, Milenko shared comments he had prepared for a late August online ASCOLFA (Asociación colombiana de Facultades de Administración)event with Professor Gustavo Yepes from Externado University of Colombia; Florencia Librizzi from UN SDSN; and Gustavo Loiola from ISAE, Brazil. Milenko’s comments on Global Responsibility during and after a crisis — as well as his decades of research on the subject — are so relevant for GRLI’s ongoing inquiry into our “direction of travel” that we invited him to share them here.
In Part 1, Milenko shares his research investigating how business schools perceived their lack of responsibility for dealing with the the 2008 global financial crisis and its aftermath. Read Part 2 and Part 3.
To contextualize the larger question of responsibility and business education, please allow me not to start with the COVID-19 pandemic but with another global crisis, back in 2008.
Prof. Al Rosenbloom and I conducted a global survey on business schools’ responses to the global financial crisis. One of the questions asked for faculty and business schools administrators’ perceptions and views regarding the nature of the crisis. Was it only financial, as it was called, or it was broader and deeper?
The responses were very interesting. A great majority of respondents said: Yes, the crisis is financial, but also broader and deeper. It is also economic, social and, above all ethical.
But there was also a question on their views regarding the extent to which business schools were responsible for the crisis. Surprisingly or not, only around 8 percent of respondents strongly agreed that business schools are responsible.
When we presented our findings at various events, and commented this rejection of accepting the responsibility looks hypocritical, given the fact that business schools are the institutions that form business and also other leaders, we had interesting discussions from the audiences.
We heard an argument that business schools are not responsible since at the beginning of their studies students bring their already formed values and attitudes that business schools cannot change.
I have personally found this argument even more hypocritical, since if you look at the marketing and promotional materials of business school worldwide, they particularly emphasize their role in enabling their students to get an open and critical view, new horizons of thinking, as well as new values and attitudes.
We are now at the highest level of technological development and progress in the known history of mankind. The same could be said for the highest level of knowledge and broadest ever coverage of education.
Yet, we are facing several serious developmental paradoxes. I will mention only two: The paradox of survival and the paradox of knowledge and education.
Paradox of survival: At the highest level of technological development we are stronger and more powerful generation than any other generation before us. Yet our concerns and fear regarding the future of mankind and the whole planet are higher than those who had our parents and grandparents, let alone those people who lived hundreds or thousand years before us. We are afraid of possible nuclear conflicts and other disaster. We are concerned about biodiversity, global warming and climate change. And these days we witness how vulnerable and helpless we are when confronted with such a small thing as Covid-19 virus.
The paradox of knowledge and education is that we know increasingly more about fields that are increasingly narrower. We may end in knowing everything about nothing. The reason for this is that we are focused on knowledge, which is disciplinary in nature, while we forget about the understanding, which is interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, trans-disciplinary, or holistic if you wish in its nature.
To be able to successfully address these and other developmental paradoxes, we need to resolve the following three fundamental dilemmas:
- The dilemma of growth: How much materialism versus how much quality of life
- The dilemma of power: How much control vs how much freedom
- The dilemma of interest: how much myself vs how much community
These are eternal dilemmas, but each generation must find the most appropriate balance between those extremes.
I see the SDGs as the approach that our generations are taking to resolve these key questions or dilemmas. And I see business schools not only as capable of contributing, but also as responsible to do their best for a better world.
Go to Part 2.
Milenko Gudić is Founding Director Refoment Consulting and Coaching, Belgrade, Serbia and Co-chair, PRME Working Group on Poverty, a Challenge for Management Education