Culture of success: European schools introduce arts subjects to management curriculum

Grenoble Ecole de Management, the French business school, is offering its students the chance to graduate with joint honours in literature and management. More than that, the school is now making all first years do a course in management epistemology, to teach them how to analyse business issues and develop critical thinking.

"Quelle surprise," you may think. The French education system has always prized the philosophical line of inquiry. Hard-bitten businessmen may scoff – but the move represents a coming sea change in business education, not just in France but across Europe, as schools open up to the humanities subjects in what some say is a reaction to the current financial crisis.

"Our mission is to be a service for companies [and] the companies say that now they need people with general culture and general knowledge," says Jean-François Fiorina, director of the Grande-Ecole section at Grenoble.

"The companies don't want super-technicians. They are going to face complex situations and for that they need students who have the theory to think and propose some solutions for the financial crisis."

This sentiment is reflected across Europe and indicates a drive for more rounded business graduates. Last year Madrid's IE Business School introduced humanities to the core curriculum on the MBA. Students do a two-week "launch" module at the start of their course which includes an introduction to moral philosophy, eastern and western civilisations and modern art. Copenhagen Business School offers a two-year Masters in business, language and culture, as well as an MSc in social science that focuses on the creative business process. It runs a similar programme in partnership with SDA Bocconi, the Italian business school.

Ken Starkey, professor of management and organisational learning at Nottingham university Business School, believes that business schools need to think about how management education has contributed to the philosophy behind the excesses of the last two decades. He has written a paper on the need for change with the French school, Ecole des Mines de Paris.

"With the financial crisis we're seeing that the whole driver around business has been quasi-science," he says. "Clearly it's not a science. We know that the MBA is implicated in the current crisis – and look where it's got us."

Starkey says that business schools need to work towards a curriculum that balances the analytical, the economic and the financial, with a more philosophical understanding of management. "You need the science, but thats got to be balanced by culture, and that's what's been driven out."

He is encouraged by Grenoble's decision to offer literature with management: "I think literature is the vehicle that brings together the complex and provides the deep lessons that you need," he says.

Using literature as a platform for business education is nothing new. Stanford University professor Jim March famously used the literary hero Don Quixote as a model for good business leaders. And Roffey Park, an executive education and research institute in West Sussex, has been teaching Shakespeare to business leaders for years.

Henry V is used to demonstrate inspirational leadership; Julius Caesar is used to illustrate power and politics in the workplace; and The Tempest gives people an idea of how to lead through change. "We've used a number of different plays to illustrate key messages in management and leadership," says Gary Miles, head of open programmes and events at Roffey Park.

"Why these examples work so well is you can make analogies back to the business world. It gives you a sense of purpose and there are some really good examples in Shakespeare – it's full of calls to imagination and visualising the future, and that's really key in management. It gives people the strength to go back and do things differently."

Jochen Runde, the new MBA director at Judge Business School, recently presented a masterclass on how ontology – the branch of philosophy concerning modes of existence – can be applied to business. "We are trying to show how, from a philosophical starting point, one can come up with a different way of looking at technological change," says Runde.

On the Judge MBA this year, for the first time, the philosophy of business and business ethics module will be taught by the chair of the Cambridge University philosophy department - a clear sign that Runde is keen to reach out to the wider university community. "They'll be taught by a very good lecturer coming at the subject from a slightly different angle," he says.

'The best future leaders will be generalists'

Theodore Zeldin, historian, author, and lecturer, has been pressing for a more philosophical approach to business. He has written the syllabus for an "MCA", an introduction to culture and creativity for all MBA graduates.

"What I'm trying to do is rethink what business education should be about and how one can give prospective business people a broader knowledge of human experience than they get from the largely technical work that business schools provide," he says.

Zeldin is founder and president of the Oxford Muse ( www.oxfordmuse.com), a foundation that aims to stimulate "courage and invention in personal, professional and cultural life". He is associate fellow of Saïd Business School, emeritus fellow of St Antony's college, Oxford and honorary professor of HEC Paris.

The MCA syllabus which he has developed – and for which he still needs financial support – aims to give people an outlook that is international, that looks at the past, and takes in scientific knowledge. It's about turning them into generalists.

"It is a reaction against the MBA. The MBA is a specialism and it is now accepted as the standard, he says. "But CEOs, when questioned, always say that the best future leaders will be generalists.

"The reaction to the financial crisis should be: how can we mend the system? This is an opportunity to rethink what we want to get out of our financial activities. We've got to create a new generation of business leaders who are generalists and can understand new ways of thinking."

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Economics, Finance)

£23000 per annum: Harrington Starr: First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Ec...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice