Interlinking Business and Society: A Challenge for Business Schools around the Globe

Tuck joins a unique alliance of leading business schools dedicating to solving societal problems of the future -- and leveraging businesses to create solutions

A growing population, increasing shortages of resources, and national economies that are highly in debt – the world is facing enormous challenges over the coming decades. Business is going to play a key role in solving these problems. “Never before, have companies and society been so closely connected,” says Pierre Tapie, President of the ESSEC Business School.


Together with the Keio Business School in Tokyo, the School of Management of Fudan University in Shanghai, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in America, and the Business School of the University of Mannheim, ESSEC forged an alliance of leading Business Schools from all parts of the world.  The alliance has a clear goal: to debate central economic and societal questions of the future, and to develop problem-solving approaches, while embedding them in research and education. More than 200 high-profile scientists, business representatives, and students from the home countries of the five alliance partners debated at the first Forum and the focus was on questions that are both current and controversial: How can we best shape Corporate Governance? What impact does this have on the leadership of companies? And what solutions exist for the tension-laden issue of profitability and responsibility?

These are topics that will have an impact on the education of future managers as well. A study conducted among graduate students at the five cooperating business schools shows that future leaders in the United States already regard ethical conduct as the most important quality of a successful top manager. Internationally, this attribute ranks second to competence in financial questions, but ahead of both strategic orientation and the ability to motivate employees. “The values of companies on the one side, and business schools as research institutions and educational establishments for executives on the other, strongly influence each other. For this reason, we must deliver the answers for the issues of the future,” states Tapie. The international alliance of the five business schools is the ideal platform for this debate. After all, they represent five nations, that, when combined, account for almost 50% of global economic output. Together, the five institutions have more than 600 renowned scientists, 20,000 current students and 90,000 alumni.

One of the most important insights of the conference was summarized by Dr. Werner Brandt, Chief Financial Officer of the SAP AG: “Corporate governance has become one of the central leadership issues. While corporate governance was shaped by the strategy of a company before, the reverse is the case today. The starting point for the formulation of a company’s strategy is always the definition of a value system.” Eric Labaye, Director of McKinsey & Company, France, emphasized that these deliberations are not limited to shareholders, but must incorporate all stakeholders, meaning employees, customers, suppliers, as well as organizations and associations. “Additionally, the focus should be placed on the pursuit of long-term goals, such as employee satisfaction, innovation, or the securing of a good reputation, as opposed to financial figures of short-term relevance,” noted Labaye. Naturally, this must not come at the expense of profitability. As Paul Danos, Dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth noted: “Tuck has a Center for Business and Society on campus which focuses on opportunities for students to interact with nonprofit organizations and also to study other critical societal issues. Tuck’s association with the Council allows us to extend our reach and gives us a global perspective on issues at the intersection of business and society.”

In the coming years, each of the alliance schools will take a turn in hosting one of the next international forums. In January 2013, Fundação Getulio Vargas (Brazil) will join the alliance as the sixth international alliance partner.

Founded in 1900, Tuck is the first graduate school of management in the country and consistently ranks among the top business schools worldwide. Tuck remains distinctive among the world's great business schools by combining human scale with global reach, rigorous coursework with experiences requiring teamwork, and valued traditions with innovation. 

by Kim Keating