Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana published an excellent article in the Harvard Business Review earlier this year about making management a true profession. In one illustration of the disconnect between management and other professions, the article points out that while med school graduates take a Hippocratic oath to do no harm and law school grads swear to uphold the constitution, business school grads have no equivalent.
This may be changing. As the NYT reported, a group of HBS students has responded to the economic moment by creating an MBA Oath. The pledge is built on the idea that a manager’s purpose is to “serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can create alone.” The oath’s definition of greater good is broad, touching on everything from global prosperity to leadership development, but at its core is a powerful challenge to the conventional wisdom that a manager’s only true responsibility is to maximize shareholder value and stay within the letter of the law. Students and grads can go to mbaoath.org to sign the oath.