Felix Salmon

Youthful swearing, cont.

By Felix Salmon
May 25, 2010

Remember the Global Business Oath of the Young Global Leaders at Davos? Let me remind you: it’s a terribly silly and earnest document which begins with “As a business leader I recognize that” and ends with “This pledge I make freely and upon my honor.” In between is a bunch of do-goody pablum. But thanks to Ben McGrath’s wonderful Talk piece in the latest New Yorker, I now know that the Global Business Oath has a rival: the MBA Oath. This one has a few small differences — it starts with “As a business leader I recognize my role in society” and ends with “This oath I make freely, and upon my honor.” But it also has a big difference: it’s a book, which can be bought at places like 800 CEO READ.com.

In hindsight, this was probably the biggest problem with the Global Business Oath, whose Twitter feed has only 264 followers, to the MBA Oath’s 568. For one thing, there are many more MBAs than there are Young Global Leaders, so the MBA Oath has a naturally larger constituency of smug young backstabbers to cultivate. And more importantly, the first thing that the inventors of the MBA Oath did was sell the book rights to the concept, with some unspecified “portion” of the proceeds going to “support the MBA Oath movement”. After all, in this world, if you’re not doing well by your idea, then you hardly count as even doing any good in the first place. So Max Anderson and Peter Escher first sold their book, and then parlayed their advance, before the book was even published, into well-paying jobs in asset management. Which I’m sure comports perfectly with the final principle of their oath:

I will invest in developing myself and others, helping the management profession continue to advance and create sustainable and inclusive prosperity.

So far, over 3,000 people have taken this oath, all of whom were presumably unfazed by the idea that they were pledging their personal honor to “help the management profession continue to advance”. If, that is, they actually read the thing.

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