In partnership with Coast Capital and the Canadian Purpose Economy Project 

In 2022, Corporate Knights published The Social Purpose Transition Pathway, a report that graded companies on how well they were implementing their social purpose. This year, we have carried the social purpose theme to the educational realm.

A social purpose business model goes beyond focusing on profit and considers the value that is being generated for society. In a classroom, it translates into curriculum that teaches future business leaders how to use assets, resources, competencies, products, services and influence to create solutions to society’s social, environmental, socio-economic or socio-ecological challenges. A crucial order of the day.

In partnership with Coast Capital and the Canadian Purpose Economy Project, we asked and analyzed the responses to two optional questions in this year’s Better World MBA: do you teach the social purpose business model in your core curriculum, and does your business school itself have a social purpose statement?

What we found

1. The social purpose business model is not yet widely represented in the mission statements or curricula of business schools. Most business schools do have mission statements, but clearly defined social purpose statements are rare.

Of the 209 schools in this year’s universe, 19.6% had mission statements that were weakly aligned with social purpose, and 45 schools had unequivocal social purpose mission statements.

Among the leaders receiving an A grade in our assessment is the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, which incorporates social purpose into its mission, “Business for a Better World,” aimed at creating shared prosperity and propelling equity and justice. “This isn’t just a forward-looking statement; it’s a dedication to cultivating business leaders who can effect meaningful change.”

For the question about curriculum content, of the 44 MBA curricula we reviewed, almost half had some social-purpose-related material, but only two schools contained sufficient evidence of social purpose content in their course descriptions to merit an A grade in our assessment. Those leaders included Griffith in Australia (also our top-ranked program in the Better World MBA this year) and Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

2. The social purpose business model is widely misunderstood by business schools and is often conflated with an emphasis on sustainability performance, triple-bottom-line accounting, adherence to ethical standards and other non-financial metrics of company performance that do not by themselves make a purpose-driven company.

Social purpose course integration scoring and results

ScoreDefinitionResults

ASchool course descriptions meet our definition of social purpose and cover the role of “purpose beyondprofit” as an organizing principle for company strategy and performance evaluation2 schools (4.5% of assessed programs)

BSchool has courses that do not fully meet the definition but either possess the language of socialpurpose or include elements of social purpose practice without fully adopting a social purposeframework18 schools (41%)

CSchools for which we could not find any social purpose concepts or language in their coursedescriptions.24 schools (54.5%)

SchoolSocial Purpose Grade

Griffith Business SchoolA

Frankfurt School of Finance and ManagementA

Colorado State University – College of BusinessB

Audencia Business SchoolB

Duquesne University – Palumbo-Donahue School of BusinessB

Bard CollegeB

Warwick Business SchoolB

York University – Schulich School of BusinessB

University of Victoria – Peter B. Gustavson School of BusinessB

University of British Columbia – Sauder School of BusinessB

EADA Business School BarcelonaB

McGill University: DesautelsB

INSEADB

Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus UniversityB

Gordon Institute of Business ScienceB

WHU Otto Beisheim School of ManagementB

HEC MontréalB

Esade Business SchoolB

Universidad Externado de Colombia School of ManagementB

Nova School of Business and EconomicsB

University of Vermont – Grossman School of BusinessC

University of Exeter Business SchoolC

Maastricht University – School of Business and EconomicsC

CENTRUM PUCP Business SchoolC

TIAS School for Business and SocietyC

Durham University Business SchoolC

University of Winchester Business SchoolC

ESMT BerlinC

La Trobe Business SchoolC

Gordon S. Lang School of Business and EconomicsC

Toronto Metropolitan University – Ted Rogers School of ManagementC

University of California at Berkeley – HaasC

University of Cape Town Graduate School of BusinessC

Nottingham University Business SchoolC

Queen’s Business SchoolC

University of Strathclyde – Strathclyde Business SchoolC

Saint Mary’s University – Sobey School of BusinessC

Mannheim Business SchoolC

Carleton University – Sprott School of BusinessC

Lagos Business SchoolC

Boston University Questrom School of BusinessC

University of SussexC

Imperial College Business SchoolC

University of Toronto – Rotman School of ManagementC

Social purpose statement scoring and results

ScoreDefinitionResults

AStatement meets our definition of social purpose and explicitly identifies the creation of a better world
as the main purpose of the school.45 schools (21.5% of assessed programs)

BStatement does not fully meet the definition but one of the stated objectives relates to the creating of a better world.41 schools (19.6%)

CStatement does not meet the definition of social purpose.123 schools (58.9%)

 

Read the full Better World MBA methodology, including social purpose criteria.

Ralph Torrie is director of research at Corporate Knights. Sanna Uppal is a research analyst at Corporate Knights.

The post Are MBA programs teaching social purpose? appeared first on Corporate Knights.

In partnership with Coast Capital and the Canadian Purpose Economy Project 

In 2022, Corporate Knights published The Social Purpose Transition Pathway, a report that graded companies on how well they were implementing their social purpose. This year, we have carried the social purpose theme to the educational realm.

A social purpose business model goes beyond focusing on profit and considers the value that is being generated for society. In a classroom, it translates into curriculum that teaches future business leaders how to use assets, resources, competencies, products, services and influence to create solutions to society’s social, environmental, socio-economic or socio-ecological challenges. A crucial order of the day.

In partnership with Coast Capital and the Canadian Purpose Economy Project, we asked and analyzed the responses to two optional questions in this year’s Better World MBA: do you teach the social purpose business model in your core curriculum, and does your business school itself have a social purpose statement?

What we found

1. The social purpose business model is not yet widely represented in the mission statements or curricula of business schools. Most business schools do have mission statements, but clearly defined social purpose statements are rare.

Of the 209 schools in this year’s universe, 19.6% had mission statements that were weakly aligned with social purpose, and 45 schools had unequivocal social purpose mission statements.

Among the leaders receiving an A grade in our assessment is the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, which incorporates social purpose into its mission, “Business for a Better World,” aimed at creating shared prosperity and propelling equity and justice. “This isn’t just a forward-looking statement; it’s a dedication to cultivating business leaders who can effect meaningful change.”

For the question about curriculum content, of the 44 MBA curricula we reviewed, almost half had some social-purpose-related material, but only two schools contained sufficient evidence of social purpose content in their course descriptions to merit an A grade in our assessment. Those leaders included Griffith in Australia (also our top-ranked program in the Better World MBA this year) and Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

2. The social purpose business model is widely misunderstood by business schools and is often conflated with an emphasis on sustainability performance, triple-bottom-line accounting, adherence to ethical standards and other non-financial metrics of company performance that do not by themselves make a purpose-driven company.

Social purpose course integration scoring and results

ScoreDefinitionResults
ASchool course descriptions meet our definition of social purpose and cover the role of “purpose beyondprofit” as an organizing principle for company strategy and performance evaluation2 schools (4.5% of assessed programs)
BSchool has courses that do not fully meet the definition but either possess the language of socialpurpose or include elements of social purpose practice without fully adopting a social purposeframework18 schools (41%)
CSchools for which we could not find any social purpose concepts or language in their coursedescriptions.24 schools (54.5%)
SchoolSocial Purpose Grade
Griffith Business SchoolA
Frankfurt School of Finance and ManagementA
Colorado State University – College of BusinessB
Audencia Business SchoolB
Duquesne University – Palumbo-Donahue School of BusinessB
Bard CollegeB
Warwick Business SchoolB
York University – Schulich School of BusinessB
University of Victoria – Peter B. Gustavson School of BusinessB
University of British Columbia – Sauder School of BusinessB
EADA Business School BarcelonaB
McGill University: DesautelsB
INSEADB
Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus UniversityB
Gordon Institute of Business ScienceB
WHU Otto Beisheim School of ManagementB
HEC MontréalB
Esade Business SchoolB
Universidad Externado de Colombia School of ManagementB
Nova School of Business and EconomicsB
University of Vermont – Grossman School of BusinessC
University of Exeter Business SchoolC
Maastricht University – School of Business and EconomicsC
CENTRUM PUCP Business SchoolC
TIAS School for Business and SocietyC
Durham University Business SchoolC
University of Winchester Business SchoolC
ESMT BerlinC
La Trobe Business SchoolC
Gordon S. Lang School of Business and EconomicsC
Toronto Metropolitan University – Ted Rogers School of ManagementC
University of California at Berkeley – HaasC
University of Cape Town Graduate School of BusinessC
Nottingham University Business SchoolC
Queen’s Business SchoolC
University of Strathclyde – Strathclyde Business SchoolC
Saint Mary’s University – Sobey School of BusinessC
Mannheim Business SchoolC
Carleton University – Sprott School of BusinessC
Lagos Business SchoolC
Boston University Questrom School of BusinessC
University of SussexC
Imperial College Business SchoolC
University of Toronto – Rotman School of ManagementC

Social purpose statement scoring and results

ScoreDefinitionResults
AStatement meets our definition of social purpose and explicitly identifies the creation of a better world
as the main purpose of the school.45 schools (21.5% of assessed programs)
BStatement does not fully meet the definition but one of the stated objectives relates to the creating of a better world.41 schools (19.6%)
CStatement does not meet the definition of social purpose.123 schools (58.9%)

Read the full Better World MBA methodology, including social purpose criteria.

Ralph Torrie is director of research at Corporate Knights. Sanna Uppal is a research analyst at Corporate Knights.