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Education gaps about inclusive capitalism?

We have seen unbridled capitalism become the butt of widespread criticism that it has caused the chasm between the haves and the have-nots to become much, much wider

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When I was in business school several decades ago, the underlying theme drilled into the mindset of graduate students was the maximization of profits measured primarily in terms of the ubiquitous IRR, or the internal rate of return. The return to the providers of capital of the enterprise, or the almighty yield as the ultimate consideration for making a decision.

The mode of teaching was primarily through rigorous case studies that enabled the students to simulate making business decisions based on actual situations, albeit disguised, but unfortunately very few from the local setting. An exception that I distinctly recall, however, was about Nardong Putik, an infamous Robin Hood bandit who roamed Cavite and wrought untold financial woes on mango orchard businesses, but shared stolen largesse with the poor.

Cases centered on learning various tools that could prepare future CEO, investment bankers, entrepreneurs, brand managers, government bureaucrats and generals — yes folks, we had several classmates from the ranks of the military who became not only generals but Chiefs of Staff and even Secretary of Defense — or just about anybody from here and abroad keen to master the world of management and business.

We were broken up into groups of about four or five students who would discuss long hours into the night the various cases assigned for discussion the next day. We analyzed, debated among ourselves in preparation for the actual classroom fireworks that mostly proved to be the primary consideration of our class standing. The more loquacious and erudite students in class would win the nodding approval of the professor and the likely inclusion in the prized Dean’s List at the end of the term. The practice, however, was deemed to be too elitist, shallow, confining, narrow and not enough evidence of one’s real worth and was promptly people-powered out of the system by the majority of the student population after our first year.

Looking back, it certainly seems that even back then, this was a portent of events to come in our country. For whatever it might connote, the last public speaking engagement of Ninoy Aquino before he was arrested was a speech he gave to our class on the eve of the declaration of martial law.

To aid us in our evaluation of the cases, we had core subjects such as Marketing Management, Production, Quantitative Analysis, Management Accounting, Human Behavior in Organizations, Development of Enterprise, Written Analysis of Cases, which to my great surprise turned out to be one of the most important skills that would come in handy in the future. I am referring, of course, to the fact that in the real world of business, if your recommendation to the boss would exceed more than two or three pages at most, the less likely it will be read and appreciated. And finally Environmental Analysis — Remember the Nardong Putik case referred to earlier? — which was about the only subject then that came close to meaningful discussions about Inclusive Capitalism, which is now rapidly gaining ground in the lexicon of business management.

In recent years, we have seen unbridled capitalism become the butt of widespread criticism that it has caused the chasm between the haves and the have-nots to become much, much wider, as the insiders have become excessively far, far richer than the outsiders. In search for the lowest cost of production, millions have gone into unemployment as global trade restrictions loosened up. Jobs have moved to low-cost producing countries without regard to the social dislocations that have arisen. Massive production for consumption, leisure, mobility, shelter and greater connectivity catering to the growing demand for cheaper and latest versions have accelerated environmental risks. How did these all come about?

CEO and directors driving enterprises that have contributed to these social and environmental maladies were probably schooled using the same curriculum I went through eons ago. I now wonder if there had been some subjects on Ethics and Social Responsibility in business schools then, would we be where we are now?
Until next week… One big fight!

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