Put purpose and problem solving at the heart of business teaching, the British Academy urges business schools

7 Nov 2022

Business and management schools should put purpose and problem-solving at the heart of their teaching so that future business leaders take a key role in tackling societal challenges, argues the British Academy in a new report.

Teaching Purposeful Business in UK Business Schools brings together key ideas, research and evidence from the British Academy’s long-running research and policy programme into the Future of the Corporation and applies them to the theory and practice of business teaching.

The Academy argues that the business leaders of the future are ready to take a leading role in solving some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges we face, and that business and management schools are best placed to train a generation of leaders to solve these problems.

The report recommends that:

  • Business and management schools put purpose and problem-solving at the heart of their teaching, from the curriculum, prevailing theories and core skills to teaching approaches and institutional arrangements
  • Courses should start from the question ‘what is the purpose of business?’ and use the Future of the Corporation Principles for Purposeful Business or similar frameworks as a basis for exploring the fundamentals of business practice
  • Each business school takes steps to define its purpose, and adjust its governance, measurement, performance and funding arrangements to create accountability for that purpose.

As part of this, the Academy is calling on business school leaders and faculty, businesses, and supporting institutions to form a Purposeful Business Teaching Innovation Group for discussing and highlighting best practice in teaching purposeful business. The Academy will help to catalyse this effort by hosting this Group’s inaugural set of meetings as part of its SHAPE Observatory.

The report also highlights the growing importance of ethical business practice, equality, diversity and inclusion, and the risks and opportunities facing business schools. The Future of the Corporation programme combined research from a range of academic disciplines with insight from senior business and policy leaders, and recently concluded with a final report, Policy and Practice for Purposeful Business and a special issue of the Journal of the British Academy.

Professor Julian Birkinshaw FBA, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School, said:

“Today’s business leaders are confronting far-reaching challenges on multiple fronts, including climate change, war, inflation, digital disruption and the aftershocks of a global pandemic. Far from shying away from these challenges, young people – the business leaders of the future –aspire to play a role in solving them. Business schools can fuel those aspirations by equipping young people with the leadership tools, the confidence and ethos to enable business to solve the problems of people and planet.”

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For further information contact the Press Office on [email protected]  / 020 7969 5273 / 07500 010 432.

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