Interview with Caryn L. Beck-Dudley – Societal Impact in Business Schools and How Collaboration Across Fields Can Solve the World’s Problems

19 Jan 2023
Today, business schools are actively playing a big part in solving complex problems and creating an impact on society and not only accountable for profit. “Our new 2020 AACSB standards require business schools to show positive societal impact in their teaching, research, and community outreach efforts,” said Caryn L. Beck-Dudley, President and CEO of AACSB International, who visited Sasin School of Management recently. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation is internationally known as the longest-standing specialized accreditation for business programs and institutions. To be accountable for societal impact, business schools must measure impact effectively. Beck-Dudley suggested that the best way for business schools to measure impact is to consider whether their missions align with goals. Then they should find a feasible way to measure their impact on society that other schools can adopt. “I am hoping that our 900-plus business schools around the world come up with very creative and innovative ways to measure impact,” she said. Beck-Dudley stated that the challenge for business schools is to create societal impact and be more aligned with goals in their industry, collaborating with other relevant public sectors to solve problems. Moreover, business schools should align their objectives with problems businesses in the real world need to solve. To achieve that, business schools should also have a more horizontal level of organization where higher-ups consider the opinions of everyone. “The challenge for business schools is how to chart that if they have not done so already, and chart it in a way that goes through the whole business school and not confined to an executive education center or an advisory board,” she said. Considering how business schools align with business corporations can also translate to the types of skill sets and attributes business students need to add to their repertoire as they enter the workforce.

“If we do not have a planet, there is really not much we can do,” – Caryn L. Beck-Dudley, President and CEO of AACSB International

Looking at climate change issues, Beck-Dudley said that business schools specialize in marketing, branding, consumer behavior, supply chain issues, finance, and accounting. One of the ways business schools can enhance their probability of fixing problems like climate change is to collaborate with other educational fields on the campus, combining different perspectives on the issue that can be discussed and considered into actionable solutions. “There are some schools like Sasin that have sustainability as their piece– I am sure climate change is hopefully a large piece of that, and there are other business schools across the world– but it is a pretty small number, so I think most business schools have an opportunity to combine with their engineering schools, science programs, and work across the campus to really use their skillsets in ways that are important to the planet and all of us,” she said.  
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