Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Brand Loyalty?

Yvonne Abraham has an article that asks the question: So, with all the stress on corporate accountability, and emphasis on responsibility in MBA programs, what kind of corporate citizens are our top schools turning out?

The answer is...perfect corporate citizens.
After a "homophobic" e-mail was sent out out MIT's Sloane School, an investigation was launched and a punishment handed down to the offending student. (The student was not expelled.) Abraham continues:
As the incident became public, there was some soul searching among members of the class of 2008.

Not over tolerance and justice, mind you. About public relations and
the Sloan "brand."

After all, publicity about a homophobic threat, and complaints about
the administration's response, might make prospective students think twice before dropping $44,556 a year to study there. Which in turn might lower the school's top-flight reputation, making a Sloan MBA less impressive to employers.

After a news story appeared May 5, a Sloan student sent out a group
e-mail saying: "I really wonder who benefits from speaking to the press . . . One thing is sure - no one in our community benefits from causing damage to our school brand."

Members of the LGBT Club defended themselves.

"It is a delicate balance," wrote one. "How do we . . . have a public
dialogue about this issue yet avoid negative media coverage and damage to the Sloan brand?"

Talking about the incident would actually help the brand, he continued. By "helping to focus the story on the positives (such as how we plan to move on from this) we hope to demonstrate that Sloan will not stand for such acts."

You've got to admire that optimism. But even this student was fretting about his school's image when he should have been telling the résumé protectors to buzz off because there are bigger principles at stake.

Protect the Brand!


Thomas Garvey said...

The concept of "brand" is getting a little frightening, isn't it? Where's the academic brave enough to deconstruct it? Or to stand up to homophobic bigots?

Ian Thal said...

Business school has never been a bastion of justice-seekers, or those with moral visions-- and ultimately, universities are run by people who see themselves in the business of business.