Academic Civic Engagement in Management Education

By Jha, Srirang; Jha, Shweta | Review of Management, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Academic Civic Engagement in Management Education


Jha, Srirang, Jha, Shweta, Review of Management


Introduction

Academic Civic Engagement (ACE) is a rapidly evolving pedagogical intervention aimed at enriching the learning experience of students so as to augment their professional competence, citizenship behavior and conscientiousness. ACE is identical with service learning, academic service learning, community engagement, academic community engagement, student-community engagement, university-community engagement, community-pedagogy, community-knowledge exchange and community-based learning, learning-linked volunteering, community-engaged learning, etc. ACE complements the discipline- based B-school curriculum by bringing in some element of consciousness about societal expectations, awareness of community needs and opportunity to resolve issues in the community organizations by using knowledge gained in the classroom. Profit maximization is no longer the ultimate goal of business leaders. They are supposed to conduct themselves with integrity, ensure maximization of social value and protect the interests of the communities affected by their operations. Traditional B-school curriculum has its own limitation and hence large number of faculty members and institutions across the world are now turning towards ACE so as to make management education holistic and relevant for the communities as well as business organizations.

Contemporary managerial practices are skewed towards quantification of results (scornfully termed as 'number game' by hard-pressed employees), return on investment, performance metrics, cost control, profit-maximization, shareholder value, outshining the competitors and enhancing market share by any means. Thus, there is hardly any focus on balancing humanistic aspirations and needs of the stakeholders with that of short-term or long-term business goals either in the boardroom or in the classroom. Interestingly, business leaders are now recognizing the value of corporate social responsibility and corporate citizenship. Gradually, scenario is changing in the boardroom with a sincere focus on integrity, responsibility, accountability and triple bottom-line. No wonder, 'there is an outcry for academicians to teach students to be effective moral leaders and have strong citizenship skills to do the right thing, not merely to do things right' (Steiner and Watson, 2006). Further, it is assumed that B-schools have a specific responsibility of instilling a sense of duty towards the communities amongst the students who are generally apathetic to societal concerns while running business operations (Wilson, 2008).

Value added by ACE projects provides immense benefits to the students apart from helping the communities resolve some of the issues. Based on extant literature on the theme, Millican & Bourner (2011) have summarized the advantages accruing from community engagement as under:

* Greater self-knowledge (including students' knowledge of their own strengths and values)

* Increased awareness about the contemporary scenarios

* Enhanced social self-efficacy (i.e. their belief that they can make a difference)

* An opportunity to apply the learning acquired on campus (for example, developing a marketing plan for an NGO)

* Enhanced employability (thanks to practical exposure in identifying and solving problems and managing projects)

* Enhanced academic performance

* Opportunities to learn/upgrade interpersonal skills and leadership skills

* Opportunities to develop reflective thinking skill (i.e. their capacity to capture the lessons of experience. This is, of course, a key component of the capacity for lifelong learning.)

The employers usually find the college graduate wanting in communication skills, work ethic, team spirit and tolerance for diversity -the shortcomings which are adequately addressed in ACE projects (Govekar & Rishi, 2007). There are evidences indicating how ACE helped in honing the communication skills of the participants (Wilson, 2008). …

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