Teaching Environment to the B-Schools

By Cohen, Julie A. | Management Review, June 1990 | Go to article overview

Teaching Environment to the B-Schools


Cohen, Julie A., Management Review


Environment-it's the watchword for the 90s. Everyone is involved in one capacity or another-law schools study toxic torts, schools of public administration research ways to clean up the environment and corporations have developed managerial positions devoted primarily to environmental concerns. But what are the business schools-the incubators for tomorrow's managers-doing about the environment?

The answer is very little-that is, until recently. In 1982, The National Wildlife Federation in Washington D.C. established the Corporate Conservation Council (CCC), where corporate representatives meet to discuss growing environmental concerns-including soil conservation, groundwater protection and hazardous waste reduction-and methods to integrate those concerns into corporate decision making. Over the past few years, the 14-member council "has talked of many issues and how they pertain to corporations, but there is one theme that keeps coming up time and time again-that environmental issues affect every aspect of corporate decision making and [must be] dealt with throughout the company," says Mark Haveman, research assistant at CCC.

The days of having an environmental affairs staff of just lawyers and engineers are over. Management must have a better understanding of these issues and should be able to manage them. [The CCC] saw a real need for increased sensitivity and awareness, and a better understanding of how it affects [managers'] jobs," he adds. But the CCC felt that a significant barrier toward resolving environmental problems existed: the lack of attention devoted to the environment in schools of management and business administration. As a result, the CCC initiated an Outreach program to develop a curriculum on environmental management and policy to be used in the B-schools.

Me CCC-with representation from such large corporations as Dow Chemical, General Motors, 3M, Shell Oil and USX-picks up the tab for research, curriculum development and materials. Indeed it is a hefty tab-$300,000 for a three-year program. And, with a significant financial commitment, the CCC expects results. It has outlined specific objectives and goals for educating tomorrow's managers, including:

Sensitize B-school students to a broad range of environmental issues that they might address as managers in the future;

Broaden the development of analytical and problem-solving skills by introducing environmental considerations into the decision making process;

Develop a foundation for further program development in B-schools and other professional disciplines;

Fi Promote environmental education among current managers by incorporating these materials into company and university executive education programs and training seminars; and

Fl Serve as a catalyst for additional management research on the relationship between environmental issues and their impact on functional areas of business.

Business educators were needed to carry out the goals and objectives of the CCC. Haveman conducted a survey of about 30 business policy professors, who were recognized names in the social issues and management field, to determine how the environment was treated in the B-schools and to get opinions on what more could be done. The results? Three very interested and enthusiastic professors-Dr. James E. Post, Boston University School of Management; Dr. Rogene A Buchholz, Loyola University of New Orleans College of Business Administration; and Dr. Alfred A. Marcus, University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.

Once faculty and sites were determined, the program took off. During the first phase of this three-phase program, beginning in the fall of 1988, research was conducted to determine how environmental issues could be integrated into the B-schools, to gather case studies examining company responses to specific environmental problems and to develop a computer database of available environmental information. …

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