1596.jpgOctober 2008 | By Joaquin Garralda, Professor of Strategy at IE Business School


The training of future business leaders comprises more than equipping them with knowledge. It is essential to instill them with values in order to combat bad business practices.

The directives included in the Bologna Accord seek to converge the various higher education systems in Europe and lay down design principles which most leading Spanish business schools already apply in their master degree contents and activities.

One of the key issues is the search for a balance between the academic point of view and the interests of the companies that hire the students. Accordingly, Bologna recommends asking employers about the skills and knowhow they consider relevant in the recent university graduates they hire. Leading schools have applied this principle since they first began. The ability to do so is based on two facts: One, they are fully integrated in a highly entrepreneurial environment owing to the academic and education activities they carry out with managers and companies; and two, as leading schools they help manage their students´ careers given that they are very aware of the needs of enterprise and integrate them into their programmes.

A second issue highlighted in the Bologna Accord is that the pedagogical focus should shift to achieving expected results. These results include the personal skills associated with behaviour and capacity for action as key factors. There may not be a specific programme for certain cross-skills, which may be developed across several academic subjects.

Hence the significance of skills workshops in the sessions of a master programme has increased; however, these skills should not only be developed thought dedicated sessions, but rather they must be integrated into other subjects in such a way that certain forms of behaviour are reinforced.

Finally, there is one issue that, although not specifically addressed in the Bologna Accord, is apparently seen by the business world as an essential part of any professional profile: issues related to integrity and honesty.

The report drawn up by the Aspen Institute on the values of MBA students highlighted the pressure felt by students when faced with the business dilemmas they were presumably going to have to deal with. The students revealed their doubts regarding their capacity to face this type of dilemma when their values and teaching tell them to act in a way which competitive aggressiveness suggested they should forget. To avoid this situation, leading schools should provide a variety of debates and analytical tools to develop their awareness in order to perceive these dilemmas at the beginning and provide sufficient strength of character to oppose practices that lead to evident negative situations for the enterprise. It is in this capacity of non-accomplices to certain practices that students should question certain activities or consider leaving a company that encourages them.

These are the people who make it possible to trust in the free-market system.