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Corporate collapses affect programs

CORPORATE collapses and the fairly new buzzword of triple bottom line accountability are changing the face of MBA programs.

The fallout from the collapses in Australia and abroad has raised the question of responsibility.

While chief executives and chief financial officers take fiscal responsibility, the field of responsible employees is widening.

The University of WA’s Graduate School of Management is one school to add to its program by introducing a unit called ‘organisations in their environment’.

GSM associate director Ray Fells said it represented a major shift in the program’s approach. The unit not only tackles the theory of triple bottom line reporting but also includes public relations and ethical issues that a manager must deal with.

“I think it’s a thing that people are getting more aware of. It’s an awareness that they have got more responsibility than just their own accounts,” Mr Fells said.

He said several of the units in the MBA addressed the wider concerns of business activity and future developments in corporate responsibility.

“However, we decided to create a new unit on this issue and require all students to take it early in their studies,” Mr Fells said.

“This unit focuses on the multi-faceted environments that influence the management of domestic and international businesses.

“In a dynamic environment familiar responses and remedies are becoming less effective; this unit will prepare managers to take into account a much broader context when making decisions and developing corporate policies.”

The Australian Graduate School of Management has come up with its own answer.

It is offering a new short course designed for professionals around Australia.

AGSM dean Michael Vitale believes corporations increasingly accept that their responsibility goes beyond financial accountability.

“Inadequate provision for superannuation is one type of concern and community and environmental costs that don’t show up on a balance sheet are another,” Professor Vitale said.

“Corporate collapses have a truly devastating effect upon our community and our society.

“Some organisations champion a holistic approach but are still not fully committed to accountability of the triple bottom line.”

Besides the accountants, human resource managers, public relations managers and brand managers all share in this responsibility.

Triple bottom line reporting embraces the economic, the societal and environmental control that senior executives inherently possess.

“It emphasises the call for senior executives other than the CEO and CFO to accept accountability for their decisions,” Professor Vitale said.

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