Chartered ABS Taskforce report published: Business schools and the public good

The Chartered ABS is proud to publish our Taskforce report on 'Business Schools and the Public Good'. The Taskforce is Co-Chaired by Tom Levitt, an author on business sustainability, and Professor Martin Kitchener form Cardiff Business School, and consists of members from academic, industry and policy backgrounds. The Taskforce was established to consider how business schools understand and deliver ‘public good’, and aimed to map approaches to public good in UK business schools; suggest ways to support the spread of promising practices; and expand the public narrative on the purpose of business schools.

The Taskforce reviewed how business schools deliver public good through teaching, research, internal operations, and the ways in which they engage with the world around them. The methodology consisted of a literature review, a survey, and a deeper exploration of promising practices through fieldwork comprising interviews and documentary analysis. The report presents 20 case studies of promising practices across a diverse range of Chartered ABS members covering the four main activity areas of business schools.

The Taskforce found that most UK business schools have different interpretations of public good, but most Deans feel that public good is both important to their schools, and that it is considered more important now than it was three years ago.

The Taskforce revealed the emergence of a purposeful leadership approach based on inculcating in colleagues a higher and clearer sense of their contribution to what the school does and why. The report recommends that business schools adopt a purpose statement that articulates a clear sense of public good similar to those increasingly used by businesses within their public good strategies.

Based on the survey results and case studies collected from the schools, the Taskforce found that a number of UK business schools are ‘purpose-led’ in that they articulate a clear view of their public good and use this to guide development across the four main areas of activity. A second group of ‘emergent’ schools was identified which reflect the wide range of approaches to delivering public good through initiatives in one or more, but not all, of a school’s activity areas. In many cases these originated from organic initiatives driven by enthusiastic individuals and groups who could be considered ‘public good entrepreneurs’. The Taskforce believes that such individuals and groups should be nurtured further if business schools are to accelerate their transformation to more purposeful organisations.

The report offers recommendations as to how business schools, together with students, policymakers and industry, can go further in delivering public good across society. These include a purpose statement that is stakeholder-inclusive and articulates a clear sense of public good; the establishment of a purpose function to co-ordinate delivery of purpose across the four main activity areas; and the reporting of progress towards public good.

The final report of the Taskforce can be viewed here.

The Chartered ABS would like to thank all of the members of the Taskforce for committing their time and expertise to the project over nearly a two year period and during the very challenging circumstances of the pandemic. The list of Taskforce members is below.

Taskforce Members

Professor Martin Kitchener, Professor of Management, Cardiff Business School (Co-Chair)

Tom Levitt, Author and Former Member of Parliament (Co-Chair)

Beatrice Andrews, Head of Local Industrial Strategies, Cities & Local Growth Unit, BEIS

Professor Julia Balogun, Dean, University of Liverpool Management School

Bhavina Bharkhada, Senior Policy Manager, Make UK

Ramin Bokaian, Research Manager, Chartered Association of Business Schools

Professor Frances Bowen, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Social Sciences, University of East Anglia

Katie Dash, Head of Everyone's Business, CBI

Cheryl Hall, Former Director Quality Governance, CSR and Sustainability, Walgreen Boots Alliance

Lizzy Hawkins, Former Senior Policy Advisor, Responsible Business, Inclusive Economy Unit, DCMS

Professor Toni Hilton, Dean, Brighton Business School

Grace Hurford, Independent Consultant/Visiting Lecturer, University of Cumbria Business School

Professor Alan Irwin, Professor, previously Vice-President, Copenhagen Business School

Dr Emm Barnes, Strategic Project Manager, Queen Mary University of London, School of Business and Management

Anne Kiem OBE, Chief Executive, Chartered Association of Business Schools

Dan LeClair, CEO, GBSN

Lisa McIlvenna, Deputy Managing Director, Business in the Community, Northern Ireland

Professor Peter McKiernan, Professor of Management, Strathclyde Business School

Henry Richards, Project Manager, Future of the Corporation, British Academy

Alice Wood, Director, Lexington Communications

Nicholas Wyver, Head of the Responsible Business Team, DCMS