An Ethical Quandary

Expert knowledge

| Boston Magazine |

NITIN NOHRIA, who becomes the new Harvard Business School dean on 7/1, wrote in a 2008 article that business leaders have lost the trust of the public and need a code of ethics akin to the Hippocratic oath doctors must take. We asked a couple of prominent local businessmen whether Nohria should implement such a code at HBS.

JOSEPH O’DONNELL, BOSTON CULINARY GROUP FOUNDER AND HBS GRADUATE
If it were my institution I would, without question, have a code of conduct. It might not make a big difference, but it certainly would define what the institution stands for, and it might even help some people. Is [Nohria's] article spot-on? I suppose that depends on who is reading it. You’ve got to go back to Locke, Rousseau, Machiavelli, Hobbes. You know…what is the nature of man?

DAVID D’ALESSANDRO, FORMER CEO OF JOHN HANCOCK FINANCIAL SERVICES
All business schools teach fundamental ethics, but unless you risk losing your M.B.A., what good is it? They need to stop producing people who are brilliant at math but don’t understand the human condition. When you graduate from HBS, where are the jobs? Investment banks. Private equity. Hedge funds. They all end up in the same firms…where the CEOs have been sitting in front of Congress.