UN PRME and Emerging Economies

Umesh Mukhi

Umesh Mukhi is PRME researcher in residence and doctoral student in management at Audencia Nantes School of Management, France. His research focuses on the integration of sustainability in business schools and management education. umukhi@audencia.com

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Business schools from emerging economies need to embrace UN PRME, argues Umesh Mukhi, and suggests some ways they could do it.

One of the most important questions asked among management educators in the last five years has been “how can business schools change their practices?” The United Nations Principle for Responsible Education (UN PRME) initiative addresses this question directly.

However, though UN PRME has approximately 470 signatories one of its major concerns is the low number of participants from emerging economies. (Asia has 51 signatories. Africa and the Middle East have 31. Latin America has 64. Eastern Europe has 46. This compares with Western Europe with 157 and North America with 108.)

Internationally, management education has recently been mainly criticised for its supposed over-emphasis on an economic and financial approach at the costof stakeholder concerns. In this context, do business schools from emerging economies (BSEE) have a major role in shaping the management education scenario of the 21st century?

While management educators have been concerned with a number of different issues related to emerging economies, the issue of emerging economies themselves embracing responsible management education through UN PRME principles has hardly been raised.

The scenario

Since its inception management education has been dominated by the North American culture. The institutional structure and curriculum in business schools are very closely tied to the North American context. Standardised education models and curricula have resulted in graduates grasping the same theories and principles of doing business without questioning and reflecting on issues related to social, cultural and political trends at national and international level.

Given the fact that there is a surge in demand for management education in emerging economies and that it is normal for schools to focus on standardised ways of teaching, recruiting and running the institution, they have little time to reflect on emerging paradigms. As a consequence, BSEE tend to forget that by losing this reflection they are possibly missing a substantial competitive advantage. Many schools from developed economies capitalise on the UN PRME framework by taking up voluntary initiatives. BSEE, on the other hand, are lost in oblivion in the race to impart regular management education.

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