Teaching Innovation Program

Ashridge Business School (United Kingdom)

The Development of Socially Responsible Leadership

Team Members:
Patricia Hind
Andrew Wilson

Central to the Ashridge MBA is the belief that business functions should not be addressed in isolation. Managers now require a broad integrated range of business skills to negotiate the functions should not be addressed in isolation. Managers now require a broad integrated range of business skills to negotiate the complexities of the business world with confidence. The objectives of the Ashridge TIP project are three-fold.
  1. To identify the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for Socially Responsible Leadership (SRL).
  2. To identify and investigate links between corporate success and SRL.
  3. To examine how the MBA process can develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for SRL.
At the 'micro' level, we will be exploring the individual competencies required for effective SRL. It is anticipated that the project will begin with a combination of desk research, and interviews or surveys with practitioners, MBA participants, MBA alumni and academics to draw up a testable competency framework. The emphasis here will be to identify those competencies that will allow managers to put skills and knowledge into practice. Critical incident analysis will be used to identify instances of SRL best practices, which will be integrated into the competency framework.

At the 'macro' level, and in the longer term, we will seek to understand the links between SRL and business effectiveness. Using a clear criterion framework for business 'effectiveness' or 'success', we will investigate the impact of the SRL competencies on that effectiveness. Again, the methodology will involve surveys, interviews and critical incident analysis.

The research will help to inform the redesign process for a newly structured Ashridge MBA programme to be launched in 2005. The new design will incorporate a significant module of 50 hours duration on the subject of 'Business in Society'. If completely successful the TIP project will have the following 'hard' outputs.

a) A competency framework, which will be used to inform the content and delivery of the MBA and a number of other Ashridge executive education programmes.

b) A multi-rater assessment instrument (360 inventory) to enable individuals to assess their strengths and development needs with respect to SRL. This instrument could also input to our evaluation and monitoring of the CSR teaching on the programme.

c) Best practice recommendations linking individual SRL knowledge, skills and values with organisational effectiveness, building a clearer picture of what responsible, sustainable business looks like. This will inform the broader MBA curriculum in such areas as strategy development, marketing, finance, etc.

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