There is a fine line to be trod between customer orientation and customer worship. This presents a real challenge for a business school.
Surely a key aspect of a university business school’s value proposition is not just a claim to research independence but also an independent advisory voice that can express things without fear or favour.
Once again my author of the week Michel de Montaigne offers insight. In his essay on the role of ambassadors (chapter xvi) he also summarises the key purposes in society for clerics, soldiers, merchants, and courtiers.
Courtiers have special responsibility for ceremonies and manners. They are close to the Patron and this seems to be a very fortunate position. I don’t think it is too much of stretch to see a business school in the role of courtier. However in chapter xv de Montaigne points out the problem of being a courtier…
“A man that is purely a courtier, can neither have power nor will to speak or think otherwise than favourably and well of a master, who, amongst so many millions of other subjects, has picked out him with his own hand to nourish and advance; this favour…”
Is it feasible to avoid the ‘courtier trap’ as business school I wonder?