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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Strategic CSR - Business Schools

The article in the first url below provides evidence that philanthropy courses are becoming increasingly popular in business schools:

Today, dozens of MBA and undergraduate programs teach philanthropy as an academic subject, exposing students to both the art and science of giving. … The topic appeals to business students because many may wish to serve eventually on the boards of nonprofits or become philanthropists themselves, professors at those schools say. According to the Aspen Institute’s most recent Grey Pinstripes report, a biannual survey of business school education, 36 of the world’s business schools now offer philanthropy-related courses.

The article in the second url below, however, questions the career value of these courses. In particular, it contains some interesting statistics about recent MBA graduates from programs specializing in social entrepreneurship or nonprofit management. The article suggests that, while such programs are popular, they are not necessarily leading to careers in the nonprofit sector for these students after graduation:

Despite the fact that students sign up en masse for social-entrepreneurship classes, intern at nonprofits and participate in charitable extracurricular activities, fewer than 5% of graduates from many top business schools take jobs in nonprofit organizations right out of school, with some institutions placing just 1% or 2% in the field. Even the Yale School of Management, which has built a reputation for creating nonprofit managers, sent just 9% of its class into that sector this year.

While, on the face of it, it looks like MBAs “aren't doing much "good" upon graduation,” the reality might tell a different story:

Schools say that plenty of students are going on to do good works, just not in traditional nonprofit jobs. Instead, many students opt for social-responsibility positions at Fortune 500 companies or working at for-profit enterprises that explicitly address energy-access or economic-development issues.

The main reason offered to explain these apparently contradictory trends (more nonprofit courses, but fewer nonprofit careers) is that nonprofits do not offer MBAs the same career opportunities or long term job security as more traditional, larger firms. In addition, of course, the pay and benefits are lower and many of these students carry significant student loans with them on graduation:

More than two-thirds of M.B.A.s graduated with loans in 2008, the latest year available, with cumulative undergraduate and graduate debt totaling $41,676. … Nine percent of students from Yale's class of 2011 entered non-profit jobs, with an average salary of just below $80,000, while the average starting salary for consulting jobs—where 23% of the class landed—topped $120,000.

Overall, two patterns are clear from the two articles:
  1. Students are increasingly taking social responsibility-related concerns into account when deciding their career paths.
  2. The boundaries between for-profit and nonprofit enterprises are becoming less and less distinct, with traditional organizations altering their operations and newer social entrepreneur start-ups increasingly using for-profit methods to pursue broader social goals:
Though 3% of 2011 [Harvard] graduates accepted jobs in the nonprofit and government sectors, … others are pursuing private-sector jobs that address global poverty, supply-chain issues and environmental or sustainability concerns, or other social needs.

Take care

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Philanthropy Gains Eager Followers in B-Schools
MBA and undergraduate courses on philanthropy are proliferating as interest grows among a generation of B-school idealists
By Alison Damast
August 17, 2011

Grads Do ‘Good’ for a Profit
By Melissa Korn
December 1, 2011
The Wall Street Journal