Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Tim Keane

The Stewardship Manifesto for Business Schools

A quick search for all the business-related books and articles with the term “leader” or “leadership” in the title uncovers a total of 593,033 written between 2006 and 2016. That’s more than 150 books or articles published every single day in the decade leading up to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Additionally, nearly all the top ranked business schools in the country, and most Jesuit business schools, boast some vision or mission focused on creating leaders of some aspirational ilk. In spite of our obsession with leadership – or more accurately, our obsession with writing about leadership – the world’s leaders do not seem to be learning. Each year we destroy our forests at a rate the size of Ireland and England combined. During the so-called “Troubles” between those two countries that lasted 30 years, over 3,600 people were killed. Every single year in the United States gun homicides are nearly four times that many, yet every single state in the country allows citizens to carry concealed weapons thanks to campaign and lobbying spending from the NRA that amounted to nearly $60 million in the 2016 election cycle. The 13,000 gun homicides were dwarfed by the 64,000 deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2016, all while the Pharmaceuticals industry spent a whopping $279 million on lobbying politicians for their favors. Some contend that we are evolving as a society. They point to a booming economy as evidence, skyrocketing wealth for the top 1%. As with most explosions, the risk of significant collateral damage is high. 90% of families now own only about half the wealth of the top 1%. Unlike leadership, stewardship is much more intentional. According to Merriam Webster, stewardship is: “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially…the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care – stewardship of natural resources.” This research will be conceptual in nature, mapping a path for mission-driven business schools like those in the Jesuit community to drive change through promoting stewardship to all their stakeholders. Mini-case studies will be presented that offer practical examples of stewardship initiatives designed to embrace the sense of urgency required for businesses taking the lead in reversing society’s current dangerous trajectory.