This article first appeared in Business Impact
Business schools can no longer afford to ignore the intimate interrelationship between business and politics – and they must go beyond layering ESG perspectives onto standard business thinking – says Joe Zammit-Lucia, author of the New Political Capitalism.
The cultural gulf between business and politics remains wide and persistent. ‘Business is business and politics is politics and never between shall meet’, according to American journalist, Suzy Welch. Yet this perspective is not only outdated, it has also never been true.
Traditionally, Business Schools have operated in disciplinary silos and the disciplines which have been brought to bear on business education have not included politics. Harvard academic and management guru, Tom Peters, explained in a 2021 Financial Times article how he was ‘angry, disgusted and sickened’ at how McKinsey & Co., his first employer, and its army of clever MBAs ended up paying nearly $600 Million USD for their part in the US opioid scandal: ‘Business schools typically emphasise marketing, finance and quantitative rules. The “people stuff” and “culture stuff” gets short shrift in virtually all cases.’
Politics is what people stuff and culture stuff is all about, yet many Business Schools continue to have a kind of blind spot about the close interrelationship between business and politics. This blind spot carries through when students embark on their business careers. One chair of a major multinational had just come from a meeting with fellow chairs when we met for a coffee and a chat. He told me: “We were discussing politics. We came to the conclusion that politics operates to a totally different logic from business. And, quite honestly, we don’t understand it.”
Continue reading the article in Business Impact.