As a business educator, I constantly question the role of business practice in political economy and social development. Are we encouraging upward mobility, consumption and profitability at the expense of focusing on principles and moral values? How can we teach business practitioners to create greater efficiencies and embrace competition without being socially or environmentally destructive?
Indeed, I’m not alone in struggling with these issues. Agricultural reformer Wes Jackson has observed that tertiary education in America offers only one primary major and that is in “upward mobility.” Consequently, the transient society that results has little sense of community or regard for the local environment since people are constantly moving somewhere else. Kentucky essayist and poet Wendell Berry goes even further by saying that our educational system has created a “powerful class of itinerant professional vandals…now pillaging the country and laying it waste.” David Orr, an environmental scholar, cautions graduate educators, “…conventional wisdom holds that all education is good, and the more of it one has the better…the truth is that without significant precautions, education can equip people merely to be more effective vandals.” Furthermore, recent scholarly work by Steven Bouma-Prediger, Professor of Religion at Hope College, and Brian Walsh, Adjunct Professor of Theology of Culture at Wycliff College, even develops a framework and metapors for changing this educational outcome.
This struggle with myself over such issues recently compelled me to consider the role of balance and connectedness as core business concepts. If we are too narrowly focused, unaccepting, or specialized in business practice, then balance is sacrificed. Therefore, as practitioners we must endeavor constantly to embrace diversity and breadth without sacrificing strategy. Today, everyone–myself included–is battling to balance work, family and self, all of which require an ongoing process of prioritization. Tools such as those that technologies offer can certainly help us set priorities, but we must also assist each other in “unplugging” occasionally from our circuit of busy-ness in order to gain an unhurried and broader perspective. Encouraging such contemplative distancing should be part of business and business education. Otherwise the profits that we earn and the market shares that we gain will be no cause for celebration–the proverbial Pyrrhic victory.
The important concept of connectedness has also engaged my thoughts. In this context, I feel we must acknowledge our connections with our community and with our environment. We must struggle to balance the global with the local. We must truly seek to learn more about those living and working with us. We must look with “new eyes” at the very specific places in which we live. As long as we maintain these connections with people and places, we are more likely to appropriately realign ourselves with such values as principled profitability, responsible consumption and ergonomic efficiency. As a business educator, I have a responsibility to cultivate these connections within myself and to enable students to do the same. In the classroom and in business practice, I must make these connections both explicitly and implicitly.
This issue of the GBR provides again broad insight into some specific issues facing business practitioners today. These different perspectives we hope will assist each of us in achieving the balance and connectedness that can make a qualitative difference in our lives and businesses.
Charlie Kerns’ article is written to encourage business practitioners to create and sustain an ethical workplace by exploring how values, actions and behavioral standards all interact to direct organizational behavior.
Linnea McCord and Gia Weisdorn discuss the new reality that attorney client privilege is no longer a shield under the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation. In fact, Sarbanes-Oxley requires attorneys to report malfeasance by managers and employees of publicly traded companies.
David Smith shows us the importance of investing in prevention when it comes to data loss. US businesses use approximately 76.2 million PCs to aid in the production of goods and services. Therefore, it is critical for businesses to proactively protect this essential business resource.
Donald Atwater helps us deal with the sobering possibility of deflation by illustrating how business practitioners can prepare ahead of time by developing strategic plans and initiatives. Don’t forget to take the Quiz to see how well prepared you are.
Russell Aebig and Ann Feyerherm help practitioners grapple with the important decision of whether or not to consolidate IT into one business unit or leave this critical business resource decentralized.
Darrol Stanley discusses the different strategies that hedge funds employ as well as their relationship to modern portfolio theory. In a companion article in the next issue, Dr. Stanley will help individual investors consider the option of alternative investments or hedge funds by looking at the idea of a fund of funds and how to put this together in utilizing mutual funds.
In this issue, Robert Fulmer brings us a very rich ‘dialogue’ with four business executives in place of our Conversation feature. Dan Burnham, former Chairman and CEO, Raytheon, Inc., Blair Shepard, CEO, Duke Corporate Education, Nancy McGaw, Aspen Institute Initiative for Social Progress in Business, and Mila Baker, Director of Organizational Effectiveness, Pfizer, Inc all shared their insights at the Graziadio School of Business and Management’s 4th Annual Executive Learning Forum on “The Challenges of Developing Ethical Business Leaders.”
Before you leave, don’t forget to take a look at the status of the Enterprize Portal Solution (EPS) in the EbizBuz. In this issue you can see what investments are being made in which departments and how this strategic area is positioned for future growth as this could impact your company and its present or future software investments.
Last, but not least, the entire GBR staff would like to give a very sincere thank you and farewell to our LOOP Master, Scott Fletcher, who has sustained us with laughter since this journal was created. Scott has moved on and he will be dearly missed as will his wonderful droll sense of humor which always made us not only look on the light side, but the bright side as well. We are extremely grateful for his extraordinary talent and have decided to retire the LOOP in his absence.
Stay tuned for new features that will be coming soon to a screen near you. Until next time, we hope this issue provides some insight and practical tools for meeting the challenges we all currently face as business practitioners and educators.
 Wes Jackson, Becoming Native to this Place (Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 1996), 3.
 Wendell Berry, Home Economics (New York: Northpoint, 1987), 50.
 David Orr, Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment and the Human Prospect (Washington, DC: Island Press, 1994), 5.
 Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh, “Education for Homelessness or Homecoming? The Christian College in Postmodern Culture”, Christian Scholars Review (Ann Arbor, MI: 2003) vol 32, Issue 3, p. 281-291.