Does being a better person make you a better business person?

I had the benefit of having a small research group that worked on critical business librarianship for a year together. They would meet online and discuss how they could implement some of the ideas behind the concept of the business librarianship and critical pedagogy. We found that there was quite a bit of different ways to do it. We found that there was the critical management studies group of scholars to whom I presented a paper last year.

We kept circling back to the concept of social entrepreneurship, meaning the idea that people should do things to benefit society but also try to make money while they do those things. When we thought about how to sell the idea to students, we often thought about it in terms of how it would be beneficial. After all, empathy has been shown to be a very good business practice, especially for students who are just starting out in the business world. Knowing what people want and how to give it to them is always a life skills.

That always seems a little strange to your ears. We wondered if you can help society and make money. Should you want to be a good person because it’s going to get you ahead in life? It seemed like you should do those things because you want to do them, and maybe because you want to be a good person.

On one side, I am not certain that I really have the type of training to teach someone to be a good person. That seems religious. On one hand, my students are adults, they should be allowed to make their own decisions. At the same time, their brains are not currently developed. If they are taught the wrong information about the way that business works, then they might have long term effects on how they understand the business world around them. How can you ask for more time in to make sure that your students are good humans?

Finally: what right do I have to interrupt the behavior of students to try and make them think about the ways that information is presented? While many people give lip service to information literacy and the importance of the right information in the right places, this is by no means a mandate. Do students have a right to the information that they want? Do I have the choice to control what students do with the information that I give them?