Should business schools admit some unethical people on purpose

Can you teach ethics?

There is always a lot of chatter about teaching ethics to MBAs. Wharton recently revamped, again, the core courses to re-emphasize ethics, and Harvard’s MBA ethics oath come to mind.

But the recent, horrible events in Libya have me thinking a little bit about this whole teaching ethics thing…

Colonel Gaddafi’s son – Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, or rather Dr Saif al-Islam since he is the proud holder of a doctorate from the LSE. The younger Gaddafi’s thesis was on the undemocratic nature of global governance (I have heard his father wax lyrical on the same theme from the podium of the UN). David Held, professor of politics at the LSE, recalls Gaddafi junior as manifesting a “deep commitment to liberal democratic reform of his country.” It has to be said that deep commitment didn’t seem to be much in evidence on Sunday when Saif Gaddafi made a rambling speech on television, threatening to fight “to the last bullet” to retain control of Libya.

Source: Financial Times

And according to the Guardian, Saif’s thesis was on “how to create more just and democratic global governing institutions”, focusing on the importance of the role of “civil society”.”

Ok, so LSE didn’t exactly turn a despot’s son into a democratic human rights reformer. Pretty extreme example, I know.

But it does highlight the strange role that people somehow expect business schools to take mature individuals and somehow ensure that they are all ethical business people once they graduate. Is this really possible?

It seems strange to me that journalists like to harp on how certain schools’ graduates do unethical things, as if somehow the school could keep/teach these people to act ethically for the rest of their lives.

What can business schools do?

I feel like the best schools can do is to 1) admit ethical people (to the best of their abilities given the admissions process) 2) kick out unethical people if they are unethical while at school,  3) establish a framework for dealing with ethical dilemmas in the business world and 4) let them know and that it is OK/normal to have ethical issues sometimes and that they should feel good/normal challenging unethical behavior in the workplace once they graduate.

A crazy idea – let in a few unethical MBAs

Schools let in people from all sorts of walks of life and with different backgrounds under the guise of exposing students to new things and having a well rounded class.  Note that I liked having a well rounded class, since I had only worked in finance before school so getting exposure to people from different backgrounds was very positive for me. It would have been very boring to go to school with a lot of people who were just like me.

Now here is the crazy idea. Since school is a great place to experience new challenges in a low consequences environment… maybe it would make sense to admit a few unethical people? That way students would be exposed to working with people with a different value system and would learn how to deal with them?

Wouldn’t unethical people be just as an important group of people to be exposed to? There are clearly people in the business world who do nasty stuff. Why shouldn’t schools help students learn how to interact by fostering actual interactions?

I mean, it is easier to stand up to someone who wants to cheat on a group paper than it is to stand up to a boss who wants to do something nasty, isn’t it? Why not practice in school so you are ready for the real world?

Ok, so that was a crazy idea.

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More on Apple vs SaaS apps

A good piece from Fortune about Apple’s announcement that they would take 30% of subscriptions sold through the app stores…

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/02/22/the-cost-of-apples-greed-tax/

Supposedly Steve Jobs responded to a developer’s email about this by saying:

“We created subscriptions for publishing apps, not SaaS apps.”

That would make me happy if it is true…

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Apple, app stores, mobile OS and more

Great report by a company called Lookout on Android vs. Apple apps. The key finding is “If each market continues to grow at the same rate, the Android Market will have more apps than the Apple App Store by mid-2012.”

Who know exactly how the growth curve for each market will continue to grow, but the finding is pretty clear that Android is rapidly gaining on Apple.

Android also seems to have a larger number of developers who have built more than one and more one app, vs. Apple, where over 50% of developers have only submitted a single app. Not really sure what this means, but perhaps the Apple world has more hobbyist developers who put only one app out there, while Android developers are more likely to be companies pursuing an App strategy?

Apps per Developer: Android vs Apple

Apps per Developer: Android vs Apple

Apple announces recurring subscription billing

There is suddenly a lot of noise about how Apple is introducing billing options for subscriptions. Except that there isn’t a lot of noise coming from Apple about it, so I’m pretty darn confused. Apple’s press release talks about “a new subscription service available to all publishers of content-based apps on the App Store.”

OK, cool, but what about SaaS services like OfficeDrop? I don’t mind paying 30% to Apple when they bring us new customers, but what about when our existing customers, free or paid, download our Apple apps as they use our service?

And what does this mean:

Publishers who use Apple’s subscription service in their app can also leverage other methods for acquiring digital subscribers outside of the app. For example, publishers can sell digital subscriptions on their web sites, or can choose to provide free access to existing subscribers. Since Apple is not involved in these transactions, there is no revenue sharing or exchange of customer information with Apple. Publishers must provide their own authentication process inside the app for subscribers that have signed up outside of the app… In addition, publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.

I’ve got so many questions, and wish Apple was providing a little more clarity here to developers like us who are spending a lot of time and money developing on their platform. Since our apps are designed to seamlessly interact with our web service, I don’t know if we’ll have to somehow rip out the online upgrade forms we’ve worked so hard to develop, I don’t know if our email campaigns that encourage upgrades will somehow have to be modified for Apple, of if they will even work, I don’t know if Apple will give us decent analytics so we can test upgrade options and layouts…

Come on Apple, throw your development ecosystem a bone here and help us understand what the heck is going on.

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Open Angel Forum – Apply NOW

Hey, people looking for angel funding, apply to Open Angel Forum Philly! http://ye.gg/oafp The deadline is Feb 18, so it is rapidly approaching.

Learn more here: http://openangelforum.com/2011/01/10/philadelphia-march-16th/

Hosted by Gabriel Weinberg.

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I had totally forgotten about Nokia

Who even remembered that they have such a large marketshare in “smart” phones?  The memo from their CEO on how they are standing on a “burning” platform is pretty interesting. But I can’t really think of anything they can do to regain their power in the developed world. Or even really places like China where Android is taking off.

The best quote from the Nokia CEO:

The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems, where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device, but developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things. Our competitors aren’t taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we’re going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem.

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