Neil Tambe

Let’s go.

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Can business do good?

I've been in business school for just about two weeks, and I already sense a major cultural difference from my undergraduate studies. The focus on profits is palpable. People defend the maladies caused by business, sometimes rightfully and sometimes wrongfully. Business is all about the results and getting things done. Today in a class we started talking about the financial crisis. Let me repeat that, the financial crisis. I asked a question along the lines of, "where was the SEC?" After about two comments, my professor quickly ended the conversation because we were starting to talk about politics.

It perhaps was a foul to talk about that in statistics. But, shouldn't politics and morality be exactly what we should be talking about in a business school classroom? Aren't the effects of business on society and morality strong enough to prevent an outright aversion to political discourse?

I'm not asking for business school to be a public policy classroom. But I am appalled with the seemingly unending focus on profit maximization and the creation of economic value. Without being willing to teach that there are reasons to tame shareholders' interests, I don't know how we can expect that business will do good for society unless it happens to be convenient. The way business schools seem to be now make me think socially responsible business might actually be a gimmick.

Maybe I was expecting too much to have my moral positions challenged and refined in the classroom. Maybe it will still happen. But until then, a question lingers on my heart and mind:

Is business that truly does good even possible?

Please do say hello: neil.tambe[at]gmail[dot]com