The MBA Oath

For many years I have been a proponent of a certification exam – akin to the bar exam for lawyers here in the US – to license MBAs upon graduation.  Given the influence and gravitas the degree is supposed to garner for the recipient, I would assume that a certification exam should be necessary.  So far, no dice.  However, I was delighted to learn this week that a new “MBA oath” has been setting the educational world on fire since its conception last year in an aptly titled book “The MBA Oath.”  Now I don’t know that it would have stopped some of the mega-crooks like Madoff or his ilk, but a concept like this is a darn good one and at least 30 years overdue.

A recent piece in The Economist highlighted how the Haas School of Business at Berkeley is the most recent institution to turn a critical eye toward its curriculum and begin to revise its approach toward the integration of “values”.  There are now 3,000 signatories from more than 300 institutions that have signed up to participate in the oath.

It is a darn good start.

Below you will find a brief excerpt from’s listing of the book:

“‘As a manager, my purpose is to serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can create alone…’

So begins the MBA Oath, conceived in early 2009 by Max Anderson, Peter Escher, and a team of Harvard Business School students. They saw that in the wake of the financial crisis, the Madoff scandal, and other headlines, MBAs were being vilified. People were angry because business leaders, many of whom were MBAs, seemed not to care about anything beyond their own private interests. Many began to question the worth of business schools and the MBA degree.

The oath quickly spread beyond Harvard, becoming a worldwide movement for a new generation of leaders who care about society as well as the bottom line. Thousands of graduating MBAs have now pledged to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity, just as medical students swear by the Hippocratic oath before they can practice.

This book is the manifesto for the movement. It provides not only a strong case for why the MBA Oath is necessary but also examples of how it can be applied in the real world. It will help guide businesspeople through some of the toughest decisions they’ll make in their careers.”

What do you think about the MBA oath – the book or the concept (or both)?


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