Advice for B-Schools: Don’t Ignore Nonprofits and Cooperatives in the Classroom

August 21, 2012 Business with a Difference Book Cover
John R. Whitman, adjunct professor in management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, calls for higher education to promote a diversity of forms of economic and social organization in the chapter “Education for the Social Economy,” published in the new book Business with a Difference: Balancing the Social and the Economic.
 
He argues that business schools focus too heavily on the investor-owned firm that is driven by profit, ignoring other structures.
 
“Many types of organizations that create both social and economic value thrive in our capitalist system, including nonprofit organizations, which have no owners, and cooperatives, in which the members of the cooperative are the owners and call the shots,” Whitman said. “Different organizational models are more optimally suited to achieving different social needs, and we do a disservice to our students not to give these other models serious attention in the curriculum."
 
Whitman's chapter provides an overview of those educational programs that do cover organizations in the social economy and offers a number of suggestions for further strengthening such education. 
 
He concludes that "it behooves even the most traditional schools of business management to educate their students in alternative and more democratic forms of cooperative economic organization."
 
Business with a Difference was published by the University of Toronto Press and is edited by Laurie Mook, Jack Quarter, and Sherida Ryan.