Business Schools

For B-Schools, Jobs Should Be Job One


With unemployment approaching double-digit levels, a B-school dean argues that business programs have a duty to help create new businesses that will generate jobs

Among the top priorities of business schools in California—and I suspect in every state—should be acting to take a bite out of the current, unacceptable unemployment rate. Over the years, business schools and their communities have enjoyed a great relationship. We provide a top-quality management education to those who want it and we deliver a steady supply of well-trained managers to industries that need it. More than for any other kind of professional school, it has been win-win-win for students, the university, and the business community. The recession calls for stepping up this important collaboration. We need to help create jobs. One of the ways we can do that is to encourage entrepreneurs to start companies that hire people in our communities. Not only is it the right thing for business schools to help create jobs, it's also time for us to reinvent ourselves and our curricula. We have to prepare students for a business world changed forever by one of history's most severe economic meltdowns. A key strategy we're using at Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business (Leavey Undergraduate Business Profile) is to become a launch pad for beginning entrepreneurs to start or expand promising California businesses.Last summer we launched the California Program for Entrepreneurship (CAPE), an intensive, six-month training ground for 20 businesses that we hope will take off in California within the next 20 months. Twenty entrepreneur-students were chosen from diverse fields that include childhood behavioral therapy, e-textbooks, grant-writing, video games, and GPS applications. Mentors and Formal Studies

In addition to regular contact with business world mentors, these students meet here on campus with professors and mentors to study marketing, finance, and operations, as well as to learn skills in organizational dynamics, strategic management, and communication. We are working hard to help the students understand something that professor Rakesh Khurana of Harvard Business School (Harvard Full-Time MBA Profile) has pointed out: Just as law schools promote justice and medical schools promote health, business schools should promote the community's economic growth and vitality. Young businesses will drive future economic growth, as Intel (INTC), Apple (AAPL), Cisco Systems (CSCO), Adobe (ADBE), and others created Silicon Valley. Promoting the common good is nothing new at a Jesuit institution such as Santa Clara, but I believe it is an essential strategy for all business schools today. Given what our country has been through during this recession, it is critical that business schools respond by engaging with our communities' innovators to launch the next wave of economic growth. Students who earn a business degree in California or any other state should enter the work world knowing that their decisions affect more than the bottom line. The well-being of neighbors, clients, and employees must be considered. Economic, social, ethical, and environmental consequences must be balanced. With the CAPE program, we are encouraging students to create businesses that will give rise to new jobs that last, which is exactly what the economies of California and the U.S. require to recover from the recession.

S. Andrew Starbird is dean of the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University.

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