Professor Neil Malhotra of the Stanford GSB expert on business ethics and non-market strategy says in an interview published in BNET – “Most business schools have some required ethics class, but a lot of students haven’t taken it seriously……a lot of students think, ‘Ethics is a constraint on profits’. The bigger concern with ethics, though, is a lot of these firms [who did not pay enough attention to ethics] just don’t exist anymore, potentially because some practices were unethical. Lehman Brothers doesn’t exist. Enron doesn’t exist because some practices were unethical.

A Response from the students at Harvard Business School. Student Oath!

Here’s what Peter Escher,    one of the Harvard Business School students behind the MBA Oath has to say CNN – “We were thinking about how to respond to the financial crisis taking place around us and some of the accusations about how HBS was preparing MBAs for the ethical dilemmas taking place in the business world,” The uncomfortable fact is that many of the business leaders who played a part in the current financial crisis are MBAs. Jeffrey Skilling, the disgraced former CEO of Enron, earned their MBA at HBS.

“Above all do no harm”

The oath was inspired out of a recent Harvard Business Review article by HBS professors Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana calling on reforming business management education. In this context also do read the two professors insightful article titled “Its time to make management a true profession”.

The Oath is a voluntary expression of the voice of the students?

Many may have made fun of this oath initiative by the HBS students but to me it reaffirms my faith in the young students who I feel are the only hope to bring in a ‘Change’ in the new world.

Business Ethics program at TASMAC, Pune

I wish to share some pictures of a Business Ethics program conducted recently at Tasmac (Pictures taken kind courtesy Pratik Gore).

Jinay presentating his views - brilliant

Business ethics was introduced in Tasmac from its very first course 10 years ago. Great emphasis is given by Tasmac to this program to bring an awareness in the the budding MBAs.

Business ethics students - rapt attention

An exchange of views

The pictures and the expressions of the students speak for themselves.

Please do give your critical comments or suggestions on how to  enhance the value creation potential of MBA programs in Business Ethics. Thanks.


About Dilip

An open mind! Love to share my thoughts and a keenness to learn. An engineer and a MBA I had a wonderful innings in the Army and later moved to consultancy and teaching. My current interests are music and growing culinary herbs. Love to play golf and do yoga regularly. I am serious on "Living life less seriously". A warm welcome to you be well and be cheerful always.

11 responses

  1. Vedant says:

    Hello Sir

    Business Ethics… it is very interesting topic. We read so many things about business ethics but only some of us follows that path. Ethics is one the pillar on which ‘each n every’ company stands. Ethics are always help out the company to become more productive and profitable like TATA… It is not a only a subject, it is an important need of our life & success.

    Thanks & Regards


    • Dilip Naidu says:


      Great to read your comments. You are absolutely on the right lines. In the long-run there are few other options to make our professional and personal lives successful.




  2. Hello Sir,

    Business ethics is truly a significant area that b-schools cannot afford to undedrestimate! It’s not that business ethics is not being taught in b-schools, but the weightage to the subject is too low to motivate a student to ponder over the subject that can perhaps be applied to every domain of one’s life and result in a wonderful shaping of a student’s personality. B-schools need to design a course structure which gived due weightage to this subject to instill business ethics amongst the students.

    Great Post!

    Hitesh Punjabi


    • dilipnaidu says:

      Welcome Hitesh,

      What a lovely surprise! I am delighted to read your comments. You are quite right – giving more weight to this subject will surely help. The audience will in a way will be bound to give more importance and attention.

      But to achieve an overall positive outcome a lot may depend upon the way the tutor proceeds thereafter. The whole approach will need to be differentiated from way other core subjects are taught.

      Hey btw I just had a peek into one your many blogs. Awesome. You are seasoned ‘pro’ and what a wide range of interests. Great – please consider me as your fan. 🙂

      Thanks for your compliment I am encouraged.

      Warm regards,



  3. Lubna says:

    Dear Dilip Sir,
    I was so happy to read this post. Yes, ethics can be learnt and I am so glad that someone is teaching it.
    Since you have already got some great feedback, I have no more pointers to give. All the very best.


    • Dilip Naidu says:

      Dear Lubna,

      Its gracious of you. The fact is that I may speak and discuss – but you are actually ‘doing’ it. Inspiring people to make lives of under-privileged children better and other social issues is real ethics and values in practice.

      Wish you all the best and regards,



  4. Rajiv Mehta says:

    I feel that the B-Schools in India are emphasising on ethics because one of the key reasons of the recent recession and US Bubble burst was not due to lack of brains, but lack of ethics. The greed to be the market leader and the vision and mission of a company becomes profit alone. Ethics and social responsibility are highlighted which shape the young minds to view the larger picture rather than mere growth and profits. Bernard Madoff is a classic example of this.
    So now we are to square one and with fresh opportunity to reshape our future, which is more ethical.

    Rajiv Mehta


    • Dilip Naidu says:

      Bravo Rajiv,

      Great comment absolutely spot on! You are right B-Schools in India are emphasizing ethics (so also elsewhere in the US and UK) for the right reasons. But to achieve a meaningful exchange in the classroom is not easy.

      But yes we as tutors have to be conscious not to play the role of a ‘preacher’. I guess the only thing that one can do is to keep the discussion open and do not provide prescriptions. As said aptly in a comment by Ms Mukherjee above “’hold a mirror’ in front of them”.

      Thank you for making time and enriching the post.

      Regards to you,



      • Rajiv Mehta says:

        Dear Sir,

        The concept of being open in class and inviting discussions as we do in our class helps students to open up and start churning our brains…


        Rajiv Mehta


    • Dilip Naidu says:

      “muchas gracias” Rajiv



  5. Dilip Naidu says:

    Hi folks,

    I wish to share below some insightful and frank responses received to above question in LinkedIn:

    1. Piya Mukherjee, Corporate Trainer, Visiting Faculty for MBA Institutes in Mumbai, Singapore and Dubai

    The answer to your question – clearly and sadly “No!”. A few thoughts:

    1. Most Indian b-schools are in the process of having either this subject, or a hybrid version with Corporate Governance, made compulsory for their students. Since 1996, the University of Mumbai has this as a compulsory 50-mark paper in the final semester of the MMS degree course.

    2. Making it more effective would involve some simultaneous approaches –

    a) Include “personal ethics” or pure ethics to understand the background of business ethics. The law of action-reaction is a great tool for this.
    b) Include “Profits with principles” – live corporate examples of companies who do well and do good (in synch with C.K Prahalad’s thoughts on this theme)
    c) Make every 3 hour session meaningfully interactive, with one case study, one mini-discussion, and the sharing of a contemporary event / situation to back up the conceptual discussion.
    d) Use clips from documentaries / movies to drive home the points.
    e) Encourage students to maintain a journal on pre-determined questions which are discussed at the end of the term
    f) Show (using mythology as well as current laws and practices across the world) how cultures influence the interpretation of values, not the core values themselves.
    g) Focus on creativity as a necessary but much-ignored tool in the pursuit of ethical living.

    And above all, the faculty has to believe in ethics as a way of life and be able and willing to walk the talk. At some point, the messenger becomes the message…
    Best wishes,

    My acknowledgement:
    Your review on this important topic is indeed brilliant. Instead of trying to teach and preach the tutor must go in the background, be the facilitator and let student creativity take over. Using video clips and getting them to maintain a journal is a great idea and sure to generate a lot of enthusiasm.

    The most vital ingredient is what you have highlighted “the faculty has to believe in ethics as a way of life …”.

    Thanks for the useful tips and regards.

    Piya Mukherjee’s response: Thank you! Perhaps your experience would have also been that this subject can hardly be “taught” to young adults. At best, we “hold a mirror” in front of them, share inspiring examples for better choices and examine what pitfalls might lead to poor decisions. And yes, the need to believe in it oneself, as the facilitator, is perhaps the chief ingredient of an effective session!

    2. Jonathan Poston 乔纳森, –, International Business Lecturer at Globe League

    One thing at a time….first, are business schools really teaching students how to profit?

    Once we understand how to profit long term and what works and doesn’t, don’t we also begin to feel Smith’s “invisible hand” on our shoulders to remind us of the delicate economic balance and severe penalty of greed?

    My response:
    Hi Jonathan,

    That’s a lovely take on an emotive topic! Yeah first things first – profits are surely important. Adam Smith did postulate that the greatest benefit to a society is brought about by individuals acting freely in a competitive marketplace in the pursuit of their own self-interest.

    Yet this principle could not prevent the financial crisis in the US. Even Alan Greenspan whose wisdom and experience I respect, in an interview to BBC on 8 Sept 2009 said he still does not believe based on years of experience that there is any other way other than the market mechanism as self-regulatory.

    But he goes on to say that that such disasters may happen again unless there is a fundamental change in human behavior. “They [financial crises] are all different, but they have one fundamental source,” and “That is the unquenchable capability of human beings when confronted with long periods of prosperity to presume that it will continue.”

    So we come back to ethics and values!

    Thanks for your response.