The creation of this department reflects a growing demand for attention within business schools to issues relating to the relationship between firms, on the one hand, and their regulatory, social, political, cultural and ethical environment, on the other. This demand comes in part from business leaders, who report that (i) these issues are looming ever-larger in their decision-making environment, and (ii) traditional business school education does a poor job of preparing leaders to address these issues in a sophisticated and integrated way. (See, for example, Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads
for a discussion of these failings.) Consistent with this notion, the McCombs School has seen a striking increase in the last decade in demand for executive education programs focusing on corporate social responsibility, government relations, and stakeholder relations issues. Students demand is also a driver of the department's creation. Students seek coursework in these fields, either because of an appreciation for their importance or because of employer interest in students who are equipped to handle these dimensions of business decision-making in a sophisticated way. The redesign of the Texas MBA program a few years ago reflects these trends in its emphasis on “Responsibility and Integrity,” “Communication and Collaboration,” and “Worldview of Business and Society,” as three of its four key pillars. The BGS Department represents a further development of these ideas, one that puts McCombs among a select few business schools addressing these issues at the departmental level. At McCombs, we are bringing social scientists, legal scholars, and ethics scholars together under the BGS department umbrella to focus scholarly and curricular attention on these issues, and (just as importantly) on the connections between these issues in the real world.