Anita McGahan at TEDx

10 February 2011 at 9:09 pm 5 comments

| Peter Klein |

Here is my good friend and colleague Anita McGahan, Professor and Rotman Chair in Management and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School, speaking at a recent TEDx event on the role business schools can play in making the world a better place. Anita is not only a gifted speaker and teacher, and a highly accomplished researcher, but also one of the most thoughtful people in the profession, emphasizing Big Problems as well as the more narrow, technical issues favored by the strategic management literature. Check her out!

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Education, People, Public Policy / Political Economy, Teaching.

Famous Quotations Taken Out of Context Counterintuitive Research Result of the Day

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michael E. Marotta  |  11 February 2011 at 10:53 am

    Certainly not an Austrian perspective, Prof. McGahan even left her “Chicago” roots behind when she graduated (three times) from Harvard: PhD, Harvard University; MA, Harvard University; MBA, Harvard University; BA, Northwestern University.

    One response might come from the “Amen” speech in Other Peoples’ Money because what she offered was not a business plan, but a prayer.

    I agree with her 100% that ethics should be integral to every course, because in terms of consequential human action, every choice is a moral choice by definition. (But for the many wonderful alternatives among flavors of ice cream, the phrase “moral choice” would be redundant.) She offered no examples of how to achieve that across a curriculum in business management.

    Much of what she said might sound nice, but even if you agreed with the goals, where do the resources come from, if not from the very investor profits she begs to abandon?

  • 2. Fred Thompson  |  12 February 2011 at 5:28 pm

    While I would question Prof. McGahan’s historical claims, it is easy to sympathize with her demonstrative rhetoric about the purposes of our collective enterprise of research and teaching — her comparison of the existing state with a preferred one. Indeed, her speech sounds a lot like an extended exegesis of my school’s mission statement. But there is really only one place where she slips out of a demonstrative mode into a deliberative one: her claim that business purpose cannot be reduced the maximization of free cash flows as a result of inventory turnover. That is a rather narrow perspective to be sure, although I think it has more to do with the applicability of the kind of mathematical tools we like to play with to the question of valuation than anything else (i.e., we know how to value bonds, so let’s pretend shares are bonds and that everything a business does can be assessed in that light). But where to go from there? One path might be to use this claim as a starting to ask why it might be an appropriate answer for some businesses to broad questions like: when is Fisher separation appropriate? Who should have standing in the determination of value and why? When is idiosyncratic risk irrelevant/relevant and when not? What kind of answers are appropriate for other kinds of enterprises (like government or financial institutions)? What does that mean? It also raises interesting questions about the twin management functions, no matter where practiced, of delivering in the present and creating the future.

  • 3. David Hoopes  |  15 February 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Two comments:
    1) Just because a business is good at delivering its product or service doesn’t mean it will be good at evaluating and investing in “socially responsible” things. “Streetwise Craig Pirrong discusses this:

    2) I think much/most strategy research remains detached from human behavior. It is unsurprising that attempts to use RBV (for example) logic for problem solving have struggled. A great deal of effort is spent slicing and dicing constructs that are too vague to be practicable. The slicing and dicing was nice 25 years ago. But, I think we”re clueless about the management part of strategic management.

  • 4. RussCoff  |  3 March 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Awesome Anita!

  • 5. XantheMatychak (@xanthm)  |  12 September 2011 at 3:31 pm

    A few comments:

    1. I teach design-thinking in a so you had me at ‘hello’
    2. I’d like to hear more about how personhood of firms led to “maximize shareholder wealth” as the legal obligation and goal of the firm (does it have to do with happiness?)
    3. If we are to move toward business edu that is more about managing people through wicked problems, might it be enough to help shareholders redefine wealth? Or would that be too close to a problematic model?

    xanthe [dot] matychak [at] rit [ dot] edu

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