What's the Business of Business?

Catching up on my newspaper reading, I came across this contentious nugget from the Business Section of the Boston Sunday Globe on July 9:

"Today's business schools have strayed from that original mission of stewardship, according to [Harvard Business School's] Rakesh Khurana ... While trumpeting their production of leaders, they have failed to define leadership in the context of the public good and enshrined as their highest ideal the maximizing of shareholder value, he contended ... Misdeeds at companies like Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco can be traced in part to a 'de-professionalization' of managers who put the pursuit of profits over their commitment to the broader society."

And the expected response from U of Chicago's Steven Kaplan: "He's confused. It's hard to understand why he's saying there's a problem or a failure. By and large, the goal of maximizing shareholder value does the right thing for companies. And in the long run, it's good for the economies in which companies operate."

Is Khurana confused? Is there no problem? And is the commitment of business leadership to the public good less important than shareholder rights?

John OLeary posted this on July 19, 2006, in Education.
Bookmark and Share