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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.

More from David Kirkup…

About the Author

David has over two and a half decades of business experience and is a proven financial management expert. Working in Europe and the USA, David has served as Divisional CFO at a number of Fortune 500 corporations: including Reuters, Marsh & McClennan, Zurich Insurance and ADP as well as numerous small and mid size companies. As part owner of a small software company, he was heavily involved in the marketing efforts and ultimate sale of the company. As CFO with a national PEO firm he dealt with the credit and financial issues facing hundreds of small business clients. David also spent 5 years in Bermuda managing captive insurance companies.

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