Highlights from Beyond Grey Pinstripes

Race & Business

The shooting of Trayvon Martin and ongoing investigation have caught the attention of the nation.  Not only did the event lead to the creation of the largest ever created website petition (on Change.org, for George Zimmerman’s arrest), but it has brought the public’s attention back to an ongoing dialogue around the state of race relations in the United States. This month, we highlight how MBA programs are treating the topic of race.

Interpersonal Dynamics (Stanford University): This elective at Stanford Graduate School of Business engages students to dig deeply into how effective relationships are built and how minorities are treated in the workplace. During the course, students are encouraged to revisit personal experiences of their discrimination against others, explore their own feelings and beliefs, and re-evaluate their approach to this still-challenging issue.

Manager Race and the Race of New Hires (UC Berkeley Haas): Published in the Journal of Labor Economics by Jonathan Leonard and David Levine, this research from UC Berkeley faculty focuses on personnel data from a large U.S. retail firm to explore the relationship between the race or ethnicity of a hiring manager and the racial composition of new hires.

Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution (Cornell University): The Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution at Cornell University aims to educate the “next generation of neutrals.” Through undergraduate and graduate courses and degrees, training and certificate programs for professionals, consultation and technical assistance, and research and evaluation, this Institute focuses on programs dealing with workplace dispute resolution.

The Politics of Business

From Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz demanding that fellow CEOs boycott political donations, to Hu Jintao’s upcoming transition of power with yet unknown implications for trade and policy, this year has been one of headlines full of overlap between the government and business sectors. This monthly highlight of our business school data focuses on political issues in the MBA classroom.

Political and Social Environment of the Multinational Firm/Corporate Diplomacy (University of  Pennsylvania - Wharton) This elective course prepares future business managers for understanding the impact of international political economy on strategy by providing a conceptual framework around political and economic events. The course emphasizes implications for multinational strategy and covers corporate and political influence, international regimes, corruption, economic policy, and non-governmental organizations.

Power and Politics in Organizations (NYU - Stern)  This elective course at NYU-Stern considers the ways that political processes and power structures influence decisions and choices made within and between organizations. Through analysis of actual cases involving conflict of interest between players, it seeks to help students develop awareness of the political dimensions of organizational life and gain a framework to harness and grow their political skills.

Environmental Politics and Management (Norwegian University of Life Sciences - UMB) This elective course at UMB focuses on the intersection of environmental policy and institutional structures in Scandinavia. Key issues covered include current environmental problems, central theories on environmental policies, and the link between environmental problems, management structure and public control. Students are expected to engage in the modern debate on environmental policies, understand the implementation of policy, and develop an understanding of ideological traditions in Norwegian nature and environmental protection.

Employee Empowerment

What makes a company world class? According to Gallup research, “the world’s top-performing organizations understand that employee engagement is a force that drives business outcomes.” MBA programs recognize this secret to sustainable success by challenging students to manage toward employee engagement. This month, we look at how several MBA programs are building skills to address the challenges of empowerment.

University of Southern California: The Marshall School’s Competitive Advantage Through People course specifically discusses how smart firms develop strategic competitive advantage by nurturing their internal employee talent. Class topics include recruitment practices, employee training and compensation, and approaches for fostering strong employee relations. Students learn the importance of human capital by considering ethical, legal, and social dimensions of decisions made.

Vanderbilt University: As union membership has declined, how has the nature of employee relations changed? Does the corporation have a responsibility to its employees outside a legal employment contract? These questions are answered through Labor & Employee Relations, a course that relies on case studies and simulations to teach students grievance handling, arbitration, and performance appraisal. Students study abuses of power in US industry and discuss potential temptations corporations have to violate labor laws.

Villanova University: For MBAs enrolled in the Employee Engagement and Retention seminar class, employee engagement is more than typical HR. This course seeks students who wish to drive strong performance by properly managing talent. Concepts of employee engagement, as well as tools for designing and implementing an engagement strategy, are introduced. Throughout the class, students are encouraged to consider their employee relation practices in light of larger organizational goals.

Energy Internships for MBAs

Economic growth is highly dependent upon the energy sector, just as each of us as individuals now depend upon energy for most of our day-to-day activities. With energy playing an increasingly important role in everything from politics to manufacturing, many MBAs now seek job opportunities in the energy sector. This month’s highlight is a snapshot of universities placing MBA students in summer internships within the ever-changing energy sector.

University of Oregon: Students interning with the Center for Sustainable Business Practices’ New Energy Cities program help communities re-imagine their energy systems. MBAs conduct workshops with community leaders, in collaboration with faculty, to map energy systems, create three-year energy action plans for communities, and build custom 20-year roadmaps to help systems achieve 80% greenhouse gas emissions. Students interested in the implementation of these plans may also intern in the Center’s District Energy Business Planning arena, where they forecast energy demand, analyze financial costs and returns, and explore financing opportunities.

UC Davis: The mission of the Energy Efficiency Center at UC Davis is to accelerate development and commercialization of energy efficiency technologies. To meet this challenge, the center employs UC Davis MBA student interns as Emerging Venture Analysts. The experience provides students with practical experience, while helping them work toward job placement in the energy sector after graduation.

GWU School of Business: MBA students at The George Washington University who enjoy a side of politics with their business education can experience diverse energy internships. Recent examples include students who have accepted summer positions as Renewable Energy Program Intern at the District Department of Environment's Energy Office in the DC Office of Sustainability, and as Energy Analyst in the US Department of Energy in its development of alternative energy in Beijing.

Rewarding Innovation Through Competition

The age-old motivator of innovation - competition - remains surprisingly powerful today, according to a recent McKinsey & Company report. [1] Check out how MBA programs are using competition to motivate MBA students to innovate for societal good.

International Impact Investing Challenge (Northwestern & Cornell): This invitation-only pitch competition is focused on designing investment vehicles that create sustainable impact and are of the size and scope that would be of interest to institutional investors. Students are challenged to propose and defend a sustainable investment strategy for an institutional investor that has a $10 million mandate for making sustainable investments.

Fox DESIGNweek Challenge (Temple University): How can digital technology help re-imagine the future of the city? Modern cities built on physical infrastructure almost a century ago now face the challenges of embracing digital infrastructure to reinvent the meaning of urban life. This interdisciplinary competition challenges students to re-imagine vibrant, sustainable, and mobilizing urban design.

Global Social Venture Competition (UC Berkeley & partners): This student-led contest catalyzes new sustainable ventures – and does so with $45k in prize money. Nearly 25% of competition entrants are now operating companies. Submissions have included a business using mobile phones to locate clean water in SE Asia,[2] and a sanitation infrastructure project in the Nairobi slums. Partners include Columbia Business School and London Business School, among other schools and outreach partners.

Randall Family BIG IDEA (University of Pittsburgh): An urban-friendly personal electric vehicle; a fingertip-sized device that translates sign language into computerized synthetic speech; these are just a handful of the “big ideas” proven to be innovative, and have feasibility, market potential and student dedication. Winning Pitt students are given an opportunity to work with consultants and experts to develop full business plans.

Corporate Leadership & Responsibility

Management theorist Peter Drucker once wrote “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”. In today’s world filled with news of irresponsible corporate behavior and unethical decision-making, MBA programs are merging management practice with the liberal arts to answer that call. This month we highlight select courses at MBA programs addressing responsible leadership in management.

Business Ethics Meets Behavior Economics (Yale University)

Why do good people fail in their ethical responsibilities to society? Does a business have any obligations toward society? Yale’s Business Ethics Meets Behavioral Economics course allows students to explore such questions through an amalgamation of behavioral economics, philosophy, and social psychology. The class looks critically at leaders’ obligations to society, as both wealthy individuals and corporate managers, and examines the psychological traps that lead good people to do bad things.

Authentic Leadership for the 21st Century (Dalhousie University)

Authentic Leadership for the 21st Century challenges students to define their values, ethics, and leadership philosophy. Students first identify challenges experienced during their corporate residencies, and use this framework to build a management philosophy with the help of professors and local businessmen along the way. This capstone course builds upon earlier core courses like Managing People that introduce topics on business’ responsibility to stakeholders and society.

Legal, Ethical, and Social Issues of Business (Rollins College)

“Commitment to a moral business philosophy is indispensable for a business career” notes the course description of Legal, Ethical, and Social Issues of Business. This required course examines social issues facing modern-day managers. Emphasis is placed specifically on the interaction of business and government and upon the formulation of corporate social policy.

21st Century Agriculture

According to UN estimates, enough food is produced globally to provide every person on the planet with 2,700 calories daily. Put bluntly, global hunger isn’t a scarcity issue, it’s a management issue. Fortunately, b-schools have taken note. In this highlight we examine select MBA programs offering learning opportunities to new leaders in 21st century agriculture.

Iowa State UniversityMBA students at Iowa State have the option to focus their studies on sustainable agriculture within a sustainability concentration. The program emphasizes the identification of negative impacts of agriculture and explores the development of profitable farming systems that conserve natural resources. Curriculum topics include efficiency in biofuels production, rising food prices, climate change, rising obesity rates, and fertilizer-induced "Dead Zones". Study is done in collaboration with the university’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Cornell University: In addition to weekly seminars and international development initiatives, the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development has supported some 200 graduate students in their studies and field research on rural development and sustainable, international agriculture. Further industry innovation outside of academia is nurtured though the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park – a 72 acre R&D park which has hosted forward thinking companies seeking current agriculture research activities since 2005.

University of California, DavisBesides offering an MBA specialization in agribusiness, UC Davis encourages interested students to focus their 20-week team capstone projects for client companies on food, nutrition, and agribusiness in Northern California. Those interested in agriculture outside the US also have an opportunity to work directly with less technologically-advanced countries to improve their food production, distribution and nutrition programs abroad through a joint MBA/MS degree in International Agriculture Development.

Industrial Ecology

In the past decades, businesses have relied on Just in Time, Six Sigma, and other supply chain practices to achieve efficiency. Now supply chains are facing a new challenge: "We now know what the future will look like ... climate will change, water will be scarce, and food supplies will be insecure" explains Unilever CEO Paul Polman. Below we highlight select MBA programs preparing students to manage interactions between business and the natural environment.

The George Washington University: An elective course in Sustainable Supply Chains allows students to explore theories of supply chain management and industrial ecology. Students learn to analyze product lifecycles - from initial design phase to decisions in sourcing raw materials, to production, distribution and the "return" phase. Topics included: sustainable design challenges, cradle-to-cradle theory, green procurement, waste management, flexible process design, life cycle analysis, green distribution strategies, reverse logistics, end of life management.

Illinois Institute of Technology: The Industrial Ecology elective embodies a systems-based approach to solving problems within a product's supply chain. Tools and topics taught during this course include industrial metabolism, life cycle assessment, input-output analysis, and attention to designing for the environment. Particular attention is also given toward the interdisciplinary approach of industrial ecology - students are given a robust introduction to technology, policy, regulatory, and business administration perspectives.

Universidad de los Andes: Students enrolled in this Industrial Ecology elective through the Environmental Management Department will learn to optimize operations by analyzing and reacting to supply chains' environmental impact. This course studies how industrial ecology can be used to develop successful business strategies. Topics included: life cycle analysis, reverse logistics, clean production, eco-efficiency.

MBA Career Services

Check out the Career Services offerings submitted by some of the schools in the Beyond Grey Pinstripes database.

Brandeis University: Beginning in Fall 2010, the Heller Office of Career Services began offering a required career services series for all incoming MBA students, "Launching Your Mission Driven Management Career." This series is the result of collaboration between the Career Services Office and MBA faculty to identify priority areas for career development initiatives. The series allows students to explore their professional and career development goals within a larger social impact framework.

European School of Management and TechnologyESMT offers an add-on program to Full-time MBA graduates interested in interning for 6-months in a leadership field practice, often in developing regions. ESMT provides guidance during the project, organizes for contracts with local partner organizations, and gives financial support including cost of living and travel.

Thunderbird School of Global Management Since 2005, Thunderbird has run an annual 3-day CSR TREK, looking across industries and sectors at the way the relationship between business and society is changing to incorporate a broader set of preferred stakeholder outcomes. Recent visits included Accenture (sustainability practice), Adina Beverage Company, Business for Social Responsibility, Cisco Systems, Clorox, Covive, Good Capital, Google and Google.org, Salesforce, and Wells Fargo.

MBA Campus Extracurriculars

Check out some of the exciting Extracurricular offerings in the Beyond Grey Pinstripes database.

University of Texas at Austin's Sustainability Web Portal: A university site for sustainability-related initiatives, providing information on university activities, operations, opportunities to get involved and leadership on sustainability issues.

Stanford University's Social Venture Structure Lab: Hands-on workshop for students considering starting a social venture that walked participants through issues of incorporating as a nonprofit vs. for-profit vs. hybrid organization. The workshop also helped students consider the implications of profit status on various aspects of the organization, including fundraising/financing, board governance, growth, and exit options.