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Please, UTAS Business School isn’t THAT Stupid

Nothing devalues a business school more than to have a pooling of bad assumptions at the core of their PhD and MBA programs. Society relies on business schools to educate current and future leadership in large organisations, a role critical in addressing climate change issues on a global scale. But, please, UTAS business school isn’t THAT stupid?

I’m being sincere here. When I did my MBA at the University of Tasmania there was a predominant aggressive climate denialism among the business school faculty. As recent as two months ago an entrepreneurship lecturer linked to non-peer-reviewed climate denialism literature from a right-wing “Think Tank” to push the anti-climate-change agenda.

I was also told a few years ago that were I to pursue an academic research path at the UTAS business school – following my 80% average mark across both a Bachelor of Computing and then a Master of Business Administration (Specialisation) – there would be no academic willing to be my supervisor with “certain views”. In other words, you will only get supervision for subjects and ideas held by existing faculty.

The existing paradigm that has to be supported by existing academic supervisors equates to papers that underpin a globalised world economy that can and should grow exponentially and without checks and balances. A world where resources will always exist. A world where environmental degradation won’t cut the throat of business outcomes eventually. My criticism is that in science there is ample evidence that our current state of business process is altering oceans, killing biodiversity and contaminating a limited fresh water supply; and mostly our reward is the making and selling of what can only be called crap.

Don’t point to your iPhone… look around your room and look at the plastic and the bits and bobs that you don’t need and never needed. In my view, we’ve bought so far into the consumerism driven paradigm that it’s going to take great pain to bring us out the other side. Pain that won’t be popular. Pain that won’t be making big fat-cat profits that rise exponentially on corporate charts.

But I’ve had this argument with business school faculty before. I argued for a month (to save my mark from a Pass back to a High Distinction on a Business Ethics assignment) because my course perpetuated the Pinto Myth and refused to accept that it was a myth. In that argument the PhD lecturer also harshly admonished me for things I said about the history of Corporations being liable for charges like murder. He was wrong and I was correct. But you’ll never get a PhD to admit they don’t have a license to be correct about everything. It’s the one failing of the floppy hat club.

Bad ideas and assumptions are fine in a balanced society. However, when the gatekeepers become the bearers of bad ideas – like human induced climate change denialism – the imbalance becomes dangerous. Partly because it perpetuates among graduates. Partly because those graduates will be steering corporations through a time when profits and outcomes will rely on their ability to not be wrong about those assumptions.

And pooling bad ideas in a business school eventually – and should – devalue the business degree on my wall. A good business school focuses on creating the smartest and brightest… not the most stubborn, inflexible and profit maximising.

So, on this Melbourne Cup day, I hope the cover of BusinessWeek gives a short sharp slap in the face to that established viewpoint. In large black letters on a red background it reads – IT’S GLOBAL WARMING, STUPID.

Given a moment to read the cover story – It’s Global Warming Stupid – I would ask the UTAS academics to re-evaluate their ideas. They only have to go to school next week and admit they’re wrong. PhDs are human. Fallible. Ordinary. They didn’t earn a PhD in everything and the longer it takes the more wrong their stubborn and ignorant denialism will become.

I mean this article as a critique, not a criticism. It should be taken that way.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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