Taking the MBA Oath

Today’s Pinoy Kasi column of Michael Tan in the Philippine Daily Inquirer discussed a viral contagion of another kind:  the pursuit of ethical conduct in managing a business.  In simpler terms, management professionals particularly MBA graduates want to transform the field of management into a true profession, one in which MBAs are respected for their integrity, professionalism, and leadership.

The MBA Oath initiative was started by Harvard Business School’s graduating class of 2009.  The students asked why should not MBA graduates be similarly bounded by a professional code of conduct like the lawyers and medical doctors.  To them, more than maximizing shareholder’s value, the business leader-manager should also be concerned about the general welfare of the people by doing good business the right way. 

The initiative drew more supporters than the graduating students earlier expected.  From 100 of their classmates as the initial target, there are now more than 1,200 MBA graduates from around the world who took and signed the oath on-line.  In fact, the oath itself has now been translated to Spanish and German versions.  I’m thinking of doing the Filipino version soon!

When Michael Tan mentioned in his article that he has seen no one from a Philippine business school signed the oath yet, I immediately checked the MBA oath website and became the first Filipino to do so.  (Although I am not sure of this because the list only indicates the school graduated from and not the nationality).

Here’s the full text (short version) of the MBA Oath for your reading pleasure.  After reading the text myself, I felt that there is much that managers and leaders can do to make our world a better place. 

When will our public managers replicate this initiative?


 As a manager, my purpose is to serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can create alone. Therefore I will seek a course that enhances the value my enterprise can create for society over the long term. I recognize my decisions can have far-reaching consequences that affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and in the future. As I reconcile the interests of different constituencies, I will face choices that are not easy for me and others.

Therefore I promise:

  • I will act with utmost integrity and pursue my work in an ethical manner.
  • I will safeguard the interests of my shareholders, co-workers, customers and the society in which we operate.
  • I will manage my enterprise in good faith, guarding against decisions and behavior that advance my own narrow ambitions but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.
  • I will understand and uphold, both in letter and in spirit, the laws and contracts governing my own conduct and that of my enterprise.
  • I will take responsibility for my actions, and I will represent the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.
  • I will develop both myself and other managers under my supervision so that the profession continues to grow and contribute to the well-being of society.
  • I will strive to create sustainable economic, social, and environmental prosperity worldwide.
  • I will be accountable to my peers and they will be accountable to me for living by this oath.

This oath I make freely, and upon my honor.


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