Ethics Oath A Joke?

Posted by: Lindsey Gerdes on September 29, 2009

In the wake of the recent corporate scandals, a group of Harvard MBA students created an Oath promising to engage in “responsible value creation.” They then passed along the document to MBA students nationwide, urging them to sign as well.

But some wonder if the new MBA Oath is little more than window dressing, lacking any real effectiveness. (It’s already gotten the Daily Show treatment, after all.)

Andrew Sridhar, for one, is not a fan. The contributing writer at Harvard Business School’s independent student weekly, The Harbus, recently wrote an op-ed pointing out various reasons he believes the new MBA Oath is pretty much a waste of ink.

First of all, says Sridhar, "business" can't even be called a profession in the way, say, medicine, can.

Compared with traditionally accepted professions, its body of knowledge is poorly codified. Meanwhile the course of study is only minimally intensive, to which one-year and part-time MBA programs attest. (Ever heard of night med school?) To the angst of liberals, business' true purpose on a daily basis is not service to others, as in all other professions, but personal gain.

Even more problematic, says Sridhar--students need not even read the oath in its entirety to actually click the button and sign it online.

He also argues that ethics aren't something that can be policed on a piece of paper. "Ethical behavior does not start with an oath; it must be developed over time."

Sridhar only agrees with the authors of the code on one key point. "I join the authors in rejecting the argument by some that business and ethics are incompatible."

At least that's something, right?

To hear more on the critique of the ethical oath, check out the article here.

Reader Comments


October 8, 2009 12:58 PM

its really true that business studies is nothing great. i am a sent post grad. and due to the too much hoopla about business studies joined it. but everthing was just bull.
the worst students go in for MBA DEGREES, after doing commerse. the subject dont have depth requiring the first chapter of most books giving functions, duties of that subjects major. i have come to the conclusion that docs, then engineers and then science graduates are the most intelligent ones in that order.
rest MBA's and law grads are just bottom of the trash population.

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