Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2005

Harvard Business School and the Making of a New Profession

by Rakesh Khurana, Tarun Khanna and Daniel Penrice

Abstract

Since its founding in 1908, Harvard Business School's mission has been to perform a much-needed service for American society by turning business management into a profession. One of the most important factors in the founding of HBS and the nation's other new business schools was the demand for managers created by the rise of the modern business corporation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Additionally, in the years just after the turn of the century business careers were becoming increasingly attractive to young men who would have previously entered one of the older, more traditional professions: law, medicine, education, and the ministry. The process of formulating "business principles" that would put the study of management on a scientific basis was a crucial part of what the founders had set out to achieve in creating the HBS curriculum and building a faculty. By discovering business principles, HBS would also help lay the foundation of the new profession of business. The HBS founders also believed there was another dimension to professionalism in business--one that involved not just the expertise that students acquired but also the attitudes they held and their contribution to society.

Keywords: Business Education; Mission and Purpose; Alignment; Social Issues; Practice;

Citation:

Khurana, Rakesh, Tarun Khanna, and Daniel Penrice. "Harvard Business School and the Making of a New Profession." Harvard Business School Case 406-025, July 2005.