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HBS Dean Says Rebuilding “Trust in Capitalism” Is Priority for School

One of Harvard Business School’s biggest challenges goes well beyond the bounds of the school’s campus, according to the school’s dean. In an interview with the Harvard Crimson, Nitin Nohria highlighted a need for HBS to address society’s faith in capitalism itself. 

Nohria explained that “We – as a school that has often been associated with business, which is closely associated with capitalism – need to ask, ‘what can we do to make sure that society’s trust in capitalism remains strong and can be rebuilt?’” 

He added that he sees it as “really important for business to regain the trust of society,” and specifically that “Harvard Business School needs to more proactively think about how to do that.” 

One way the school intends to engage with these questions, according to Nohria, is through coursework that tackles the theme of capitalism as a system.

Nohria pointed to HBS’s popular second-year elective Reimagining Capitalism, which aims to address the fact that modern capitalism “faces critical challenges on a wide variety of fronts.” Nohria said the school hoped to incorporate similar coursework into the first-year MBA curriculum. 

More generally, Nohria emphasized the school’s commitment to involve a more economically diverse set of communities.

As he put it: “We’re now trying to ask the question, ‘how do we more seriously get engaged with the American heartland and think harder about parts of America that feel left behind?’ What we can do to bring more economic opportunity?” 

Faculty research, too, has looked at the issue of inequality. In December, a team of researchers led by faculty member Rebecca Henderson released a Note on Economic Inequality, which highlighted growing inequality over time and possible consequences. 

Nohria may not be the only top B-school dean with an eye on the problem of economic inequality. In March, Yale School of Management announced the appointment as dean of Kerwin Charles, an economist whose research focuses include inequality. 

Indeed, top business schools seem to increasingly see a need to acknowledge economic inequality as a problem. For MBA applicants, this has a couple possible implications. 

First, applicants who have a track record of being engaged in wider questions about business and society can be attractive at top MBA programs. And second, B-schools recognize probably more than ever the need to draw in students from diverse economic backgrounds.

Of course, there are many other factors that go into making or breaking an MBA application. At EXPARTUS, we can help you evaluate what they might be for you as a candidate. If that sounds helpful, ask us for a free MBA application assessment!