want to thank everyone who has contributed to this thoughtful and vigorous discussion in the finest traditions of the Harvard Business Review. The forum succeeded as promised in sparking an open and fresh dialogue among experts, practitioners, students and readers. It will undoubtedly influence thinking here at Harvard Business School and among all those who participated. I hope it will also be a precursor to many other forums of this type on pressing business and economic issues of our time.
As many contributors have noted, this has been a period of reflection and considerable introspection for business schools. Over the past two years, as we planned and then marked our Centennial in 2008, HBS considered important questions about the future of market capitalism and the future of management education. We never imagined they would come together in such dramatic fashion as we witnessed the financial crisis, a global recession as deep and painful as any since the early decades of the last century, with fundamental questions about the role and responsibility of business schools in the mix.
I recognize merits of both sides of the debate over the extent of business schools' culpability. Ultimately I share the view of Steve Kerr, Andrew Likierman and my colleague Carl Kester: business schools must share some of the blame, but there is plenty to go around. Yes, there are lessons to be learned and things we have to do differently. As I have argued before, there were imbalances both on campuses and in the economy during an extended period of growth, where people became less focused on systemic risks and more focused on the upside and on making money. I agree that we need to move that focus back toward the center.
But to suggest that business schools and the MBA are the root cause of the global financial crisis is simplistic nonsense that ignores the obvious reality of the many complex and interrelated factors that underlie the problem.
This debate, and others like it that have played out in the media and on campuses around the world, helps to illustrate the wide range of challenges and opportunities at hand for business schools. To truly make the most of the reflection we must move from dialogue to action. At HBS, we are making changes in the way we teach risk management (without stifling the focus on innovation and entrepreneurialism), reconsidering the oversight responsibilities of directors, and revisiting the kinds of incentives provided by executive compensation packages. We will respond to the expanding interests of our students who are planning careers not only in traditional business settings, but in healthcare and science-based enterprises as well as non-profit and other social enterprises. And as we have seen all too clearly in the past year, we will need to equip our graduates to operate at the increasingly connected interface of business and government on a global basis.
I believe that business schools can and will be part of the solution. We will need to adapt to meet new economic realities and the wide-ranging ambitions of our students. But we should also recognize that the core of our teaching here at HBS will be more important than ever before. We will help students see the big picture and anticipate the impact of their decisions as well as offer them a deeper understanding of the financial crisis through the daily classroom interactions that are the signature of the case method - with an emphasis on framing the issues and asking the right questions as opposed to simply giving the right answer. We will continue to do research that is close to practice to get to the heart of what caused the crisis. And we will recommit ourselves to teaching the principles of sound judgment, values and ethics, and leadership.
I am grateful for the positive discussion that has emerged from this forum; energized by the evident passion for leadership education; and committed, with you, to ensuring that business schools, and Harvard Business School in particular, play our role in shaping the future of management education to meet the needs of a new century.