The Sloan Corporate Governance and Accountability Project

Since 2003, The Aspen Institute Center for Business Education has received nearly $1,000,000 in funding from the Sloan Foundation to underwrite its Corporate Governance and Accountability Project, which aims to influence prevailing models of corporate governance and theories of the firm, as they are understood and taught by business school faculty.


A Brief History


Over the past four years, Aspen has had an untold impact on how Corporate Governance and Accountability has been considered in the business school classroom. In 2003, we interviewed and convened prominent faculty from leading business schools in the disciplines of Accounting, Economics, Finance, Law and Strategy, to ask what was currently understood, researched and taught regarding the theory and purpose of the firm. These scholars shared their views of the strengths and the limitations of the current business curriculum, and identified a set of topics, or “teachable questions,” that they believed could usefully be introduced into core business courses, given appropriate teaching materials. To that end, we've been developing an extensive faculty network and a large array of teaching materials that provide opportunities to introduce a reconsideration of the strengths and the limitations of the dominant Shareholder Primacy Model in the core MBA curriculum. Numerous live web-conferences and thousands of downloads later, we've reached the third phase of our project. This list of Teaching Modules, developed by CGA faculty, is available through


  • Board Representation: Multiple Interests and Corporate Governance?
  • Earnings Management: Causes, Techniques, and Transparent Financial Reporting
  • Investments and Returns: Who has legitimate claim on the returns of the firm?
  • Market Failures (Teaching Note available)
  • Maximizing Shareholder Value: What Are Shareholders' Interests?
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act: How Did We Get Here? (Teaching Note available)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act: What Has it Wrought? (Teaching Note available)
  • What the Law Allows



What Now?

We have concluded phase III of the Sloan CGA project: we created a “critical mass” of faculty partners and new materials that provide a strong foundation to broaden and deepen the examination of the purpose of the firm and various theories of corporate governance in the core business school curriculum. We worked with select Faculty Fellows teams from Harvard Business School and Washington State University, Vancouver, to reframe core courses so that alternative theories of the firm and methods for using these theories in decision making are part of the fundamental design and teaching objectives of core course syllabi.


Rebalancing the short-term/long-term focus of business will make it possible to bring a wider view to the role of business, one that encompasses both fiscal and societal well-being.



Faculty Fellows Teams: Rethinking Core MBA Curriculum



Washington State University, Vancouver


The MBA program at WSU, Vancouver emphasizes sustainable stakeholder engagement, where strategic stakeholder relationships form the foundation for long term organizational success. Each course in the MBA program uses this focus as a central organizing premise.


We are working with faculty at WSU, Vancouver to reshape and rebuild two of their core MBA courses: Accounting and Finance:




Significant Questions


As a background to the reference and teaching materials we've developed, here's a listing of just some of the questions that the CGA team has considered throughout its work:

  • When is share price a good indictor of the value of the firm?
  • Is communication to all relevant stakeholders the key to balancing short-term and long-term interests?
  • Who are the shareholders, and what are their interests?
  • How can long term and broader societal risks and impacts be measured, both by investors and managers?
  • Just what does the law require of executives and directors, when it comes to shareholder primacy?


The Aspen Institute Center for Business Education is part of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program.
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