Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Russian Management Training Programs: Do Corporate Responsibility Topics Have a Place?

Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Russian Management Training Programs: Do Corporate Responsibility Topics Have a Place?

Article excerpt

Business management training programs in post-Soviet-era Russia have largely ignored environmental, ethical, and other social responsibility topics. the authors examine how the Russian culture views these issues, provide the basics on corporate responsibility theories, and give their recommendation on how to teach the relevant topics to corporate training participants in Russia

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Because of fundamental political, social, and market changes in the former Soviet Union, significant changes in education were necessary. Perhaps chief among them was the introduction of an entirely new area: professional business training. Previously, Soviet educational institutions were directed primarily toward scientific and technological disciplines, at which they excelled. Now, while the somewhat stoic institutions of higher education in Russia are reacting to changes largely driven by student expectations and political influences, a variety of independent business training programs have surfaced to meet more immediate economic development needs. Overshadowed by pragmatic business skills, environmental, ethical, and other social topics are largely ignored by these new programs. The key training areas (management, marketing, finance) command center stage, leaving "less critical" needs such as business ethics and social responsibility to some undesignated time in the future. This approach is a travesty. Now is the most opportune time to build ethical commitments into the new economic and business culture. We will look at the cultural receptiveness of Russians to these issues, provide some basics on corporate responsibility and stakeholder theory, and close with recommendations on course curricula, including an outline of possible course topics and readings.

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Economic and business management training courses in Russia are taught in venues ranging from large universities and established classroom settings (aimed primarily at younger college students) to intensive, two- to three-day specialty courses targeted at working managers, which are similar to corporate training programs in the West. MBA programs in English and Russian are offered to younger college grads as well as seasoned managers, and both are available through the traditional university setting and Russian and international distance-learning channels. Many government sponsored programs aim at elevating the skills of managers through special programs such as the "Presidents" program, which, while less intensive than full degree programs, is still demanding and comprehensive. A full array of short or long, focused or broad, easy or hard courses supplements these. Increased need has created many programs.

These programs deliver the basics of business fundamentals, and some are similar to Western professional development programs, which is not surprising. Many of the training program developers are Westerners or were trained in the West. Just like such courses in the West a decade or so ago, these programs fail to include corporate responsibility issues in their core, or even secondary, offerings. As is too often the case, they will wait for the inevitable Enrons or worse to emerge, rationalizing that ethics occupy that peculiar secondary level of "not quite essential" business training. Certainly such soft areas can mark time and be attended to more leisurely, after the more immediately pressing and pragmatic needs in the true fundamental business areas are mastered. After all, there is no time to waste--people are living in poverty, markets are stagnating, corruption is mounting.... Yes, better wait till later.

This omission is not surprising--it's natural. Wrong, stupid, shortsighted, and unenlightened, it is sadly still as inevitable as the side of human nature that makes hindsight seem so effortless and uncomplicated. These training programs fill a pressing need for an economy in drastic transition, severely depressed in some areas, vibrant in others, with similarly divergent levels of ambitions and aspirations in the people. …

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