Questrom Dean, Faculty Join 2021 Thinkers50 Awards Gala Panels on “Ideas With Purpose”

Susan Fournier, Allen Questrom Professor & Dean of Questrom School of Business, and Marshall Van Alstyne, Questrom Professor of Management in Information Systems, were panelists for wide-ranging discussions on trust in management and the future of business education at this week’s Thinkers50 Awards Gala. The gala, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of Thinkers50 as a resource for “identifying, ranking, and sharing the leading management ideas of our age,” was based in London with participants attending virtually from around the world.

Marshall Van Alstyne

Marshall Van Alstyne spoke on Monday’s panel, “Truth, Trust, and Tech.” Moderated by bestselling author and expert on collaboration Erica Dhawan, the panel tackled the mounting trust deficit that exists between technology companies and their customers- even as these companies become more and more influential in our day-to-day lives. Marshall spoke to the ways in which misinformation can run rampant on tech platforms, causing users to mistrust not only the platforms but each other. He cited the example of Facebook, its recent whistleblower scandal, and its attempts to recover from its trust deficit via rebranding into Meta. Ultimately, Marshall argued, the best way to restore trust in technology firms is to alter their incentives- whereas they now serve an “addiction model” that rewards the spread of misinformation, regulatory and social changes must instead incentivize them to promote information in users’ best interest.

Dean Susan Fournier spoke on Tuesday’s panel,“Business Education: Time for a Change?” Moderated by Maja Korica, Reader in Management and Organization at the Warwick Business School, the panel explored ways in which business education needs to evolve to meet the changing needs of not only students but the entire business community. Susan addressed head-on the ways in which COVID-19 opened up room for Questrom and other business schools to experiment with remote learning, admissions standards, administrative efficiency, and return on investment for a business degree. She also spoke to the ways in which students have come to expect their MBA to prepare them to tackle social challenges never before prioritized in business education- issues like racial and social injustice, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. At the conclusion of the panel, she urged her fellow leaders in business education to “take charge of this conversation- the time is now” to embrace being the agents of social change she believes they can be.

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