Ethics vs. competence

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I took the trouble to post a query on one of the Academy of Mgmt discussion lists, asking what colleagues felt we had failed to do to allow professionals  to graduate with the basic strategic incompetence [as well as financial] to bring about the current global crisis. Replies so far seem to focus almost entirely on the issue of ethics – not at all on what those people actually learned or didn’t whilst in our tender care. Whilst the ethics issues are important and challenging, we don’t know how much this contributed to the problem vs. simple incompetence … which is both clearer and more tractable. It seems unlikely that everyone involved in bringing about this crisis knew exactly what they were doing and nevertheless pursued it dishonestly.

As educators, we can’t reasonably be held responsible for immoral behaviour by our graduates, since we clearly don’t condone it!, Society at large might, though, reasonably want to know why we didn’t make sure they got the basic professional skills needed to not mess up on this huge scale.   

So .. what should they have understood, why did the education we gave them fail, and what are we going to do differently to ensure the next generation don’t perpetrate the same foolishness?

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