20 Feb 2019
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Dean Nohria: Business Schools have a Vital Role in Teaching Trust


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Photo by Bryce Vickmark

In a recent opinion piece in The Financial Times, Dean Nitin Nohria outlines the School’s commitment to educating leaders who are “deeply committed to values and ethics.” “Business schools—including HBS—must teach students how to be trustworthy,” Nohria writes. “We must make it a centerpiece of our curriculum. We should prioritize trustworthiness, because ultimately, that is how we will make a real contribution to society.”

Nohria goes on to note his fears that trust in corporations and their leaders could be damaged by recent scandals ranging from tech companies failing to protect data to high-profile CEOS facing allegations of misconduct.

At HBS, Nohria notes that reflection on how to incorporate relevant lessons into the curriculum has resulted in a rethinking of the MBA program’s required leadership and corporate accountability course. “Today, we teach students to look at every decision through the triple lens of their economic, legal and ethical responsibilities,” says Nohria. “Beginning in 2020, the curriculum will go further by asking students to consider what proactive, positive things they should be doing to solve some of society’s most vexing problems.”

Shifting public expectations of business leaders demand such a focus, Nohria notes—and that isn’t asking too much. “Just as importantly, I believe that only by taking the lead on such issues will business leaders be able to maintain, or even expand, the level of trust they enjoy.”

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