FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LONDON: 7 August 2019
Business Schools are confident their institutions can make a ‘substantial impact’ on reducing poverty around the world, according to study of almost 2,000 stakeholders, published this month by the Association of MBAs and Business Graduates Association (AMBA & BGA).
The news comes despite the fact that the Business School community is currently making only modest inroads into alleviating poverty, with just 38% of Business School stakeholders holding the belief that the business education community is doing enough to help the poorest in society.
These findings were uncovered by AMBA & BGA in the joint research project, Poverty and Action, which polled 1,917 Business School professionals and Deans as well as current students and business graduates, to understand the impact the global Business School community is making, in addressing poverty and inequality.
The study showed:
Three quarters (75%) of Business School stakeholders say their School could make a difference, and almost nine in 10 (87%) agree that the global Business School community collectively needs to do more to help those in poverty around the world.
In spite of this, less than a third (28%) of those polled were able to report that their School has implemented projects or programmes which are directly working to alleviate poverty or help those on low incomes. While this figure rises sharply to 54% among Business School professionals, there is a substantial proportion of individuals who are unable to think of any examples of their Business School working to address poverty in its local and wider communities.
However, only one in 10 survey participants (12%) was able to categorically say that their Business School has not been working to directly alleviate poverty in some way, while three in five (60%) simply do not know.
Poverty alleviation projects
Examples of poverty alleviation projects taking place at Schools, of which participants were aware, included knowledge sharing and research (39%), and operating in a way which focusses on the welfare of societies instead of profit (34%). Prevalent activities tend to be those which are more about the ethos and direction of a School and how it shares knowledge, while more specific and tangible activities, such as the development of new technologies or services are less prevalent.
Participants were also asked, on a scale of zero to 10 how much impact they feel their Business School is making towards poverty reduction (with 10 being the maximum amount of impact they could envisage). The average score given by all participants was 4.8.
Making an impact
The study asked how Business Schools could make more of an impact on tackling poverty. The most frequent suggestions from participants were:
Almost half (48%) of all Business School professionals called for more collaborative working and sharing between Business Schools, to utilise their joint resources and make a greater impact.
However, less than two fifths (38%) said they are confident that Business Schools help the poorest in society and only 36% agree that their Business School reaches out to those who are less well off. However, 50% believe Business Schools influence the way students think about issues related to poverty and 48% agree that their institution makes a genuine effort to tell its students how they can make a difference to the lives of those that are less well off.
Collaboration and communication
More than four fifths (82%) of survey participants believe that the collective effort of the Business School community is crucial in helping businesses work better for those on low incomes and in poverty, and many want their Business School to work more closely with other Business Schools which face different local challenges around poverty (85% agree with this and just 3% disagree).
Participants were asked in which of a range of ways they think that Business Schools can collaborate to alleviate poverty around the world. Suggestions included:
Almost three quarters (74%) say they would like to further promote the projects their Business School has developed to help society.
Commenting on the findings, Will Dawes, Research and Insight Manager at AMBA & BGA, said: ‘The research illustrates that Business School stakeholders believe Schools are currently delivering a modest impact when it comes to tackling poverty; and that there is widely held view that Schools can do much more.
‘This belief acts as a sign that Business Schools should be bolder about what they can achieve in this area.
‘Business management education should play a firm part of efforts to end poverty, and there is much more that Schools can do. In fact, the findings suggest that stakeholders believe Business Schools can effectively double the impact they currently have on addressing poverty-related issues.
‘There is also a suggestion that effective communication around the activities of Business Schools in relation to this topic may help spike awareness not just of current efforts but also the extent of the impact they are making.
‘Collaboration between both Business Schools, and the wider business and business policy landscape is seen by many to be a source of providing further impact. It is recognised that the efforts of many institutions working together will make a bigger difference.
‘The challenge for Business Schools should not be underestimated. Poverty is often the result of systemic social and economic issues which are most likely resolved through incremental efforts. Nevertheless, this study shows that Business Schools are not shying away from facing up to these challenges.
‘The task now for Business Schools is to focus more clearly on how to face these issues in a concerted and impactful way.
‘As a global Business School community, AMBA & BGA encourages its accredited and member institutions to reach out beyond their walls and seek to address the most important issues facing our society.
‘With this in mind, Business Schools also have a duty to also train and teach those who cannot afford to enrol onto their programmes.’
For more information, interviews, infographics or to read the full report, contact:
David Woods-Hale, Director of Marketing and Communications, AMBA & BGA firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellen Buchan, Communications and Insight Assistant, AMBA & BGA email@example.com
NOTES FOR EDITORS
AMBA & BGA undertook a research project which sought to comprehensively understand what Business Schools are doing to support poverty related issues. This covered three different poverty-related projects:
1. An online survey of Business School leaders (188) and Business School students (425) and graduates (1,304).
2. Five follow-up qualitative interviews with Business School graduates and professionals.
3. Three case studies of Business Schools analysing the work they are doing regarding poverty reduction. This was covered in a previous report published in BGA’s Business Impact magazine.
More than two thirds of participating MBA stakeholders (68%) are graduates of a Business School, almost a quarter (22%) currently study at a Business School and one in 10 (10%) currently work at a Business School. Collectively these participants are referred to as ‘Business School stakeholders’.
While a third (33%) of these participants are associated with Schools in the UK, more than a fifth (22%) are associated with those based in Western Europe, one in seven with those based in Asia (14%), one in 10 (10%) with those based in Africa and approximately one in 14 with Business Schools based in Latin America (8%) and Eastern Europe (7%). Meanwhile 4% are associated with those in the area of North America and the Caribbean and 3% with those based in Oceania.