For nearly a century, business schools have focused on teaching students a model of managing that prioritizes profit, but not necessarily sustainability or ethics along with it. Bryan School associate professor of management Dr. Arran Caza and his colleagues refer to this model as Financial Bottom Line (FBL) management.
Through his research on management approaches, Caza is learning what happens when you expose the current generation of business students to additional managerial models that take environmental and social causes into account.
Caza’s teaching includes two additional models managers can consider when making a decision: the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) and Social Ecological Thought (SET). During a semester-long course, he presented all three models to a group of students as equally good options. He provided definitions and examples of each model, letting students choose which model they’d utilize to run a business.
Under TBL, a business takes profit, people, and planet into consideration. An example of this approach can be seen when Amazon gives you the option to have all of your packages shipped in one box to reduce waste while also saving money on shipping.
Businesses who choose the SET model seek to make only enough money to thrive and use the rest to support a social justice or environmental cause.
“These were second and third year students that already had plenty of exposure to the FBL and TBL models, but most hadn’t been given the third option of SET,” Caza said. “It was interesting that after being exposed to that third option, most of the students became more concerned with equity-related issues.”
Essentially, Caza’s research conveys that by exposing students to new management models, they’ll embrace new ways of thinking.
“I hope this can lead to the development of a different type of manager five or 10 years from now,” Caza said.