Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hippocratic Oath for managers

The oath taken by doctors to fulfil their duty in any condition towards another life and humanity defines a framework that shapes their orientation towards society. We are living today in a very brittle state of economy and for that matter politics. Each and every day, managers who run the big corporations have to take decisions beneficial for their organizations. And in these times, the moral conduct expected by them may sometimes be put aside for the “higher good”, as they say. The point here is whether they should be forced to take Hippocratic Oath to instil in them a sense of morality towards others!


Hippocratic Oath as Wikipedia puts it is “one of the most widely known of Greek medical texts. It requires a new physician to swear upon a number of healing gods that he will uphold a number of professional ethical standards.” Generally taken by medical professional during convocation, this oath helps them to remember their duty towards society. In modern times, it has since changed a lot but the crux remains the same.
  Hippocratic oath in Weill Medical College, Cornell University –

                I do solemnly vow, to that which I value and hold most dear:
               That I will honor the Profession of Medicine, be just and generous to its members, and
                help sustain them in their service to humanity;
               I now turn to my calling, promising to preserve its finest traditions, with the reward of 
               a long experience in the joy of healing.

But the question arises, whether this sort of oath should be included in the management curricula or not. In 1995, Sir Joseph Rotblat, in his acceptance speech of Nobel Peace Prize, suggested a Hippocratic oath for scientist. And since then the talk has accelerated to a new level to include it in each profession. Harvard Business School students have already taken a lead in this matter. The oath they have formulated and its signatories can be seen on the website

So, in conclusion a Hippocratic oath is absolutely necessary to put things in perspective. Each B-School should take

a lead in determining the contents of their oath. This might not help the veterans already there in the field but for newcomers like us, it will give us a chance to uphold whatever we held true, and it will constantly remind us the way our conduct should be in difficult situations.

The short version of MBA Oath is as given below (by project)-

As a manager, my purpose is to serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can create alone. Therefore I will seek a course that enhances the value my enterprise can create for society over the long term. I recognize my decisions can have far-reaching consequences that affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and in the future. As I reconcile the interests of different constituencies, I will face choices that are not easy for me and others.
Therefore I promise:
  • I will act with utmost integrity and pursue my work in an ethical manner.
  • I will safeguard the interests of my shareholders, co-workers, customers and the society in which we operate.
  • I will manage my enterprise in good faith, guarding against decisions and behaviour that advance my own narrow ambitions but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.
  • I will understand and uphold, both in letter and in spirit, the laws and contracts governing my own conduct and that of my enterprise.
  • I will take responsibility for my actions, and I will represent the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.
  • I will develop both myself and other managers under my supervision so that the profession continues to grow and contribute to the well-being of society.
  • I will strive to create sustainable economic, social, and environmental prosperity worldwide.
  • I will be accountable to my peers and they will be accountable to me for living by this oath.
This oath I make freely, and upon my honour.

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