Should politics be part of the MBA curriculum? Yes, would be the answer. In an increasingly globalised world constantly facing political upheavals, terrorism and conflicts, business leaders would require considerable foresight and acumen to stave off crisis and seize growth opportunities that knowledge of politics would provide.
The year 2016 saw momentous happenings like Brexit, a referendum in which the people of the United Kingdom (UK) voted to leave the European Union (EU). The finance sector was shaken in the aftermath.
Across the Atlantic, Donald Trump won what is seen as an upset victory in the Presidential elections over Hillary Clinton. Markets went down initially but then rallied belying panic over a Trump Presidency.
All such upheavals point to the interdependence between politics, business and society both at the national as well as international levels. Thus not only political leaders but also business leaders should be able to foresee, plan for and manage uncertainty. This is where business schools could play a vital role.
Case Study Approach
A good example of the case study method would be the US presidential candidates’ policies. Both Hillary Clinton and Trump oppose the Trans –Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, ratified by Obama’s administration earlier this year. What would be the repercussions if the US were to pull out of this 12-country agreement?
Similarly, Trump wants to renegotiate or even scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by the US, Canada and Mexico. What would be the economic effect if the US pulls out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that Trump had called obsolete.
Taking up such topics as case studies would allow students obtain the tools they need to anticipate and prepare for risk, and to be flexible when the unexpected materializes.
Another way of increasing political knowledge among MBA students would be to organise guest lectures by leading political leaders, mock political debates, analysis and reformulation of government policies.
The Financial Times had recently stated that at higher level management posts, the ability to assess and handling the political environment will become an increasingly significant skill.
Schools that blend Politics with Business Studies
INSEAD’s core MBA course on International Political Analysis has overviews of state structures, regional and international regimes, international political economy and varieties of capitalism.
More and more business schools are offering politics in electives or as part of their core MBA curriculum. The TRIUM Global Executive MBA, a program run in partnership between the London School of Economics, HEC Paris and NYU Stern is an example of how separate faculties draw on each other’s specialized expertise to build a course. It aims at integrating international economic, political, and social policy into the traditional business curriculum.
The Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University provides a dual degree program in business and public-sector enterprise. Others have specialized MBAs in public service and public policy.