Teaching Purposeful Business in UK Business Schools

Cover image of Teaching Purposeful Business in UK Business Schools
The British Academy
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This briefing reflects on the different ways in which purpose could be placed more firmly at the heart of business and management teaching, from curricula to teaching approaches and institutional arrangements. It highlights some examples of solutions that already exist and many more are out there – business schools have not been standing still.

Continual innovation and evolution is one of the reasons business is so successful, and business schools can and often do mirror this. Now is the right time to adapt and get ahead of the curve. The British Academy work this briefing is based on brought out what this means: a fresh approach for business schools centred on problem solving.

In particular, the briefing highlights three areas for the business school community, its leaders and supporters to consider:

Putting purpose at the heart of what business schools teach

  • As ideas like purpose take root and become better understood, business school courses should have mechanisms in place to enable and encourage debate and change to curricula.
  • 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) as a guide to explore the role and implications of purpose on every aspect of the business.
  • Business schools should encourage the production of (or seek out alternative) teaching resources such as textbooks that reflect the changing context and developments in business practice, in particular, around purpose

Problem solving underpinning how students learn and develop

  • Business schools should ensure that the orienting mechanisms through which students learn are the real-world challenges and opportunities facing business leaders.
  • Further innovation and sharing of good practices in the mechanisms of experiential learning should be a priority.

Building purpose into the institutions of business education

  • Each business school should take steps to define its purpose, and adjust its governance, measurement, performance and funding arrangements to create accountability for that purpose.
  • Each business school should engage with its stakeholders to develop clear support for implementing its purpose.

How can business schools seize this opportunity?

The British Academy calls on business school leaders and faculty, business leaders, and supporting institutions (like sector groups, accreditation bodies and rankings providers) to form a Purposeful Business Teaching Innovation Group that will meet once annually to provide a platform for identifying, showcasing and sharing good practices in teaching purposeful business. The British Academy also commits to hosting this group as part of its SHAPE Observatory.

Find out more information on the Purposeful Business Teaching Innovation group, its evolving objectives and remit, and get involved

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