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Built for recent graduates and young professionals, this program emphasizes business fundamentals, technical knowledge and career development.
MASTERMINDS BLOG: BENTLEY'S GRAD STUDENTS TELL IT LIKE IT IS
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Beyond Clichés: Using Stakeholder Management to Capture Value*
What do you value? Whom do you value? How do you define it, capture it,* and maximize it*? These are questions we have explored throughout the entire Value theme, and while we haven’t come up with that elusive one right answer, we now better understand how managers must conceptualize value in order to do best for the firm and not leave any value on the table.*
“Doing well by doing good” has become a cliché precisely since it sounds too neat and cute, but there is some truth to the axiom (Unlike “A watched pot never boils.” Newsflash: It does). Traditionally, value in business has pertained only to money, with an emphasis on profit-maximizing activity.* In other words, decisions should be made that produce the most benefit to the shareholders. This approach has been challenged by what is called the stakeholder theory.* Pioneered by R. Edward Freeman, stakeholder theory posits that all entities affected by a firm should be considered in the decision making process. Other scholars have offered broader definitions and practical suggestion on how a firm can approach stakeholder management, but the main idea is that a firm can offer, and derive, more value by taking more than just profits into account. Not only that, the theory goes, doing so will improve a firm’s bottom line* beyond a traditional shareholder-oriented approach. The idea of a “triple bottom line” consisting of planet, people, and profit* is an example of stakeholder thinking.
These explorations brought us to perhaps the most neglected aspect of a BMBA education: Ethics, something commonly thought of as an oxymoron in business. And I went to law school, so that’s saying something. This inclusion of teachings from outside of the traditional business disciplines is one of the main things that attracted me to the BMBA in the first place, so while we learned about effective value chain* management, human capital strategy,* and, of course, finance and economics, we also wrestled with the extent to which a firm should bring morality and ethics into its regular decision making, different ways stakeholders can be remunerated without giving away the store,* and the most effective ways businesses can do societal good while still profiting. Whether this is a blue ocean* or merely a return to form for capitalism is something that can be debated until the cows come home (Another dumb cliché : Being from New Hampshire, I’m a bit of an expert on cows). The important thing is that we are thinking about these concepts and taking a 360° view* of all entities affecting and affected by a business, be they employees, customers, shareholders, the communities in which business reside, animals, or the natural environment itself.
And think about them we did, putting all of the value concepts together in a theme-long case study and presentation. Good job to all of my classmates! It’s been a difficult semester, but we made it. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year, and see you all in Greece! Καλά Χριστούγεννα!
*Count the business clichés!
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