Climate change a ‘must’ for MBA curriculum

27 March 2019 | Story Supplied. Photo Jason, Flickr. Read time 3 min.
Overwhelmingly, professors at top business schools agreed that climate change and its impact on business and society should be incorporated into the core MBA curriculum.
Overwhelmingly, professors at top business schools agreed that climate change and its impact on business and society should be incorporated into the core MBA curriculum.

Business schools must make climate change an urgent part of the curriculum, according to a survey of 169 faculty experts in the Global Network for Advanced Management, a coalition of 30 top business schools in 28 countries around the world, including the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Graduate School of Business (GSB).

The experts agreed that climate change poses a material risk to businesses, which, respondents said, must take action on climate risks regardless of government policy. Nevertheless, most were optimistic that global carbon regulation is achievable by 2030. 

Key findings from the survey, conducted in December 2018, included:

  • A decisive 93 percent of Global Network faculty members thought climate change poses a material risk to business across sectors, and 86 percent of the experts surveyed agreed that businesses cannot depend on governmental action to slow climate change.
  • Further, more than 70 percent said that companies should incorporate climate change into business decisions; there was significant concern about the sustainability of physical operations and supply chains.
  • Despite the urgency around the issue, faculty experts didn’t converge on a single solution for influencing businesses’ behaviour on climate; only 50 percent backed a global carbon tax.
  • Still, experts were optimistic that a worldwide carbon tax is indeed achievable, with most respondents estimating that such a tax is likely by 2030. Close to zero respondents thought that a carbon tax or carbon-neutral economy will never happen.
  • Overwhelmingly, professors at top business schools agreed that climate change and its impact on business and society should be incorporated into the core MBA curriculum. Interestingly, the survey responses on how to achieve this spanned a wide spectrum— from emphasising the risks of climate change to discussing its opportunities, indicating that business students should learn a balance of climate-driven risks and rewards for businesses.

Worst drought in a century

GSB director, Associate Professor Kosheek Sewchurran, said Cape Town residents are all too familiar with the impact of climate change on water, food and energy resources, having recently experienced the worst drought in a century in the region.

“It’s imperative that we equip our students with the right tools to find solutions for business and societal challenges such as these,” Sewchurran said.

 

“It’s imperative that we equip our students with the right tools to find solutions for business and societal challenges such as these.”

Commenting on the survey results, David Bach, deputy dean at the Yale School of Management, said top business school professors from around the world had sent two messages loud and clear: The climate crisis is here, and both businesses and business schools must adapt now; and secondly, there is no single policy solution, business approach, or MBA course that will do the trick.

“What we need instead is broad-based, real-time experimentation, and rapid learning about what works and what doesn’t. Cross-pollination is key, and the Global Network was designed precisely to support such efforts, connecting business leaders, scholars, and students worldwide,” Bach said.

Read the full survey results.


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