Harvard To Wall Street Lets Get Ethical

Nov 29, 2010

I read recently about the Harvard MBA Oath?  The oath is a voluntary pledge for graduating MBAs and current MBAs to “create value responsibly and ethically.” The aim of the Oath is to “facilitate a widespread movement of MBAs who aim to lead in the interests of the greater good and who have committed to living out the principles articulated in the oath.”

Hmmm. I think I will take this with a pinch of salt.  Could it really be that MBAs are taking the oath as a cynical safety pledge while they wait for that desirable opening in Wall Street Investment Banking?  More importantly, as students of Economics 101 know, the guiding hand behind effective markets is that each person is acting selfishly in their own interests.  Over 200 years ago, Adam Smith made the case for selfishness when he wrote that “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest.” 

So if the cream of the nation’s business graduates have now decided to act un-selfishly in the best interests of society, I would call that a definite leading indicator…and it’s not good.  Fortunately, it’s probably not true either.


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