In the article, Setting the Moral Compass, Dan Sellars discussed the origin of the Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) Oath and the public’s criticism of the feasibility it could possibly have in the real world. It began when the global financial crisis cause spurred a group of Harvard Business students to question whether business schools are providing the education ethical students require to become leaders in society.

In 2009, Max Anderson led 33 Harvard students who had decided to devise a formalized written promise for MBA graduates. The generational shift from high profit to value-based ideology caused the world to quickly adopt the oath as an international standard. However, public critics pointed out potential corruptions that could occur from students who may try to use the MBA Oath as protection against society or for job advantages.

Furthermore, questions were raised about the feasibility of the Oath due to the uncertainty of the meaning of the wording of the pledge and the inability to police if its intentions are being carried out. However, Sellers acknowledged the necessity of moral and ethical codes for leadership. He believes in the positive influence that the Oath may bring to graduate students when they make their ethical decisions.

While exploring the circumstances concerning how the MBA Oath came to be, Sellars suggested the reason behind the pledge’s growth in popularity is due to a new breed of students that have shifted their focus from high profits to high ideals. It was a generational shift, a rise of a new product of students, as well as young people, who started to believe in values and ethics-based ideology to become the best quality leaders in society. For some, it is a necessary and inevitable change they welcome.

Many economic, social, and environmental crises that are displayed all over the media have made young people realize modern society’s way of exploiting profits and resources have seemed to hit a dead end. To prevent society from destroying itself, people need to start living and conducting business with moral values and strong ethical beliefs.

The global financial crisis in 2008 is an excellent example of how unethical conduct impacts the majority. Among the many financial managers, some who ignored their conscience, and others who without more than greed to drive them, tricked the system, in order to give themselves autonomy over a large part of the financial system. There was no ethical consideration holding them back from their scheme because the world has not seriously addressed this issue.

This was the wake-up call that encouraged Harvard Business students to devise the MBA Oath because they realized society’s business and economic leaders were getting over their head over profits due to their lack of proper moral standing and value-based ideology. Their moral compass does not seem to have a True North. It needed to change. To sum it up, the spreading of the MBA Oath for graduates, is catching on so quickly because the young generation realized the importance of a moral-based ideology to prevent society from ruining itself.

Opinion by Thuan Le


Setting the Moral Compass: Dan Sellers