Ideas worth teaching … some of the most interesting business school content from around the world focusing on business and its role in society

May 5, 2019

At IE Business School we seek to bring together the world’s most interesting, most powerful, and most useful ideas for business leaders to drive their organisations forwards. I lead the school’s flagship program for senior executives seeking to drive change in their organisations and themselves, to create better futures for their business. We call it the Global AMP.

In today’s world, an important part of that challenge is to understand the role which business plays in society – both as a profitable enterprise that creates useful employment, enables customers to achieve more, and delivers returns to investors – but also as a force for positive impact and progress in society, using its resources and power, to achieve a higher purpose beyond profit, to be good and become great.

We therefore spend a lot of time curating the best ideas for business from around the world, not seeing them as competition but as inspiration to bring together “the best of the best” for our participants. These ideas might come from academics, from think tanks, from practitioners, from authors, from governments, and more. Our challenge is to bring the best together, in a meaningful, coherent and practical way, so that business leaders can embrace and apply them.

In my additional role as Global Director of Thinkers50 I also spend much of my time really understanding what lies behind the books and papers of leading thinkers. Thinkers50 produce a ranking of the top 50 thinkers every two years, which is fantastic, but the real insight lies behind the personalities, and in what new they have to say. Sometimes it quite difficult, indeed some are full of hot air, but in others the messages and models are profound.

One of places we look to is the Aspen Institute which hosts a fabulous Ideas Festival every year. It also celebrates some of the best content and faculty in the world’s business schools with the Ideas Worth Teaching Awards, to “celebrate curricula that bring to life the promise of meaningful work in business.”

The Aspen’s Business and Society initiative is “focused on critical social issues ripped from the headlines—populism, water scarcity and artificial intelligence among them—and illuminate how and why these issues are business issues.” with issues from  “How ‘Elites’ Became One of the Nastiest Epithets in American Politics,”  to lessons from the last economic downturn, as depicted in popular films like Margin Call (2011).

Aspen’s Claire Preisser leads the BSP and says “at a time when business leaders face intense scrutiny about their role in social issues, these award-winning faculty are bravely challenging the ‘norms’ of what is taught in business school—and creating leaders who can navigate a highly uncertain environment,” she said in a news release announcing the prize winners.

Here’s the alphabetical list of the courses recognised by Aspen, along with the faculty and schools that offer them, with links to the syllabus for the selected course:

Alternative Economic Models

Sandrine Stervinou, Audencia Business School

Business Ethics: Critical Thinking Through Film 

Jadranka Skorin-Kapov, Stony Brook University College of Business

Economic Growth, Technology, and Structural Change

Peter Kriesler, UNSW Business School, University of New South Wales

Economic Inequality and Social Mobility

James R. Freeland and R. Edward Freeman; Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Fault Lines and Foresight

Regina M. Abrami, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Human Capital Sustainability

Patrick McHugh, School of Business, George Washington University

Impact Investing and Social Finance

Sara Minard, D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University

Intrapreneurship: Leading Social Innovation in Organizations

Jerry Davis and Chris White, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

Issues in CSR 

Talia Aharoni, Coller School of Management, Tel-Aviv University

Management of Services: Concepts, Design, and Delivery

Zeynep Ton, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Peer to Peer Economies

Melissa L. Bradley, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University

Prospering Over the Long-Term

Tima Bansal, Ivey Business School, Western University

Reimagining Capitalism: Business and Big Problems

Rebecca Henderson and George Serafeim, Harvard Business School, Harvard University

Sustainability & Environmental Accounting

Dror Etzion, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University

Sustainability Tools & Processes for New Initiatives 

Robert Sroufe, Palumbo Donahue Graduate School of Business, Duquesne University

Sustainable Business In Iceland

Andrew J. Hoffman, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Technological Change at Work

Adam Seth Litwin, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University

The End of Globalization?

David Bach, Yale School of Management, Yale University

Urban and Regional Economics

Jaime Luque, Wisconsin School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Why Business?

Matthew T. Phillips, James Otteson, and Adam S. Hyde, School of Business, Wake Forest University