Summary of Manufacturing Morals

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Manufacturing Morals book summary

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If you think that morals and ethics should be – or could be – inculcated into an organization’s culture by being part of the unspoken basic foundation of daily life, then the Harvard Business School may be the place for you. Can creating a setting for MBA students where ethical training is part of the air they breathe actually shape future executives with staunch, internal moral standards? Harvard associate business professor Michel Anteby thinks so. He explains how the Harvard Business School tacitly instills an ethical foundation it hopes will guide its students’ professional conduct. He says HBS hopes this moral base will instill ethical, professional conduct, and he offers a unique perspective on how the School – a capital S, always, please – implicitly transmits good character through its structure, tradition and rituals, without specifically teaching morality. Though unusually interesting because of Anteby’s inside viewpoint and candid voice, this isn’t a casual read and the method sounds as if students also could use (and in practice, probably get) a stern talking-to about ethics now and then. getAbstract recommends this overview to anyone curious about the inner workings of this elite institution, to students trying to get in and to companies ready to use any reasonable tactic to teach moral conduct and add the foundational assumption of ethical practice to their intrinsic corporate culture.

About the Author

Michel Anteby is an associate professor and the Marvin Bower fellow in the organizational behavior unit at Harvard Business School. He also wrote Moral Gray Zones: Side Productions, Identity and Regulation in an Aeronautic Plant.


Silence Is Golden

Harvard Business School (often referred to as just “the School”) attempts to establish a moral foundation implicitly by “vocal silence.” The theory holds that faculty and students will absorb the School’s cultural and ethical norms, through osmosis and gravitas, without the School naming or teaching specific values. The idea is that qualities such as “autonomy,” flexibility, “discretion” and creativity can flourish within this unstated but widely understood framework.

Campus Design

The School silently conveys orderliness through many of its physical traits. The 34-acre campus is isolated and subdued. The John W. Weeks Bridge, better known as “the footbridge” – a pedestrian-only structure that spans the Charles River – is one of the most popular ways to reach the campus. Once there, students enjoy immaculate grounds and well-maintained buildings. Instructors and students often walk the paths together. Landscapers are a constant presence, repairing the pavement and tending the grass, trees and shrubbery. Most of the flowers are white to contrast with the red brick buildings and white trim. Motor vehicles have limited access to the campus, and...

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