Business School Students Learn from Buddhism

By Catherine Groux
Posted April 17, 2012 12:56 PM

Business school students might be able to learn from Buddhism.
Business school students might be able to learn from Buddhism.
At a 2010 conference, Harvard Business School professor William George spoke about how important the Buddhist practice of mindfulness is to business leaders, the institution's website reports. Without this powerful sense of self-awareness, George feels leaders often have difficulty acknowledging mistakes and are more likely to fall to the temptations of power, money and recognition. On the other hand, MBA degree seekers who learn the discipline of mindfulness tend to become more understanding and motivating leaders.

Both ancient and modern followers of Buddhism have preached mindfulness, or "sati," as one of the most important factors in the search for enlightenment. Some Buddhists feel that mindfulness is easier to experience than define, but, in general, it can be described as the focus on the inner workings of the mind and body, without dwelling on any of these thoughts.

While this practice has helped Buddhists gain better insight into their religion for centuries, mindfulness is now becoming an important part of some Master of Business Administration (MBA) curricula.

According to The Wall Street Journal, some business school professors are teaching their students how to ease their minds and increase their focus on themselves and their surroundings. These skills, they say, are important for professionals who must make important decisions in hectic business environments.

Still, it's not only MBA students who have the chance to become more mindful. Some professionals believe business schools and large corporations should be examined on their mindfulness as well.

Donde Ashmos Plowman, dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration, told the Journal that mindful organizations work to address mistakes quickly and pay attention to what is happening within them. In fact, Plowman and other professionals examined the mindfulness of 180 business schools around the country, asking them to complete questionnaires.

While some master's degree seekers, professors and organizations have found it useful to focus on mindfulness in their daily operations, Ben Bryant, leadership professor at Switzerland's IMD business school, told the Journal that some meditation experts are not pleased with the use of the concept.

"Hard-core meditators are horrified that this word is being used in business," Bryant said. "They think meditation was never meant to be instrumental in making money."

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