Research Summary

A Hippocratic Oath for Management

by Nitin Nohria


The conduct of doctors is guided by the Hippocratic Oath, which provides a normative framework that shapes their identity and orientation towards society.  In light of the diminished public trust in business managers, is it time for management to embrace its own hippocratic oath, that would spell out a common understanding of their role in society and the conduct expected of them?  Would such an oath be useful?  What would be the content of such an oath? How would it get institutionalized (become accepted and taken for granted)?  How would it be enforced?  These are the questions that animate this line of research.

Rakesh Khurana and I have been writing about making management a profession and the importance of such an oath. HBS students have now taken the lead in this area. See the oath they have formulated and its signatories here. Read about it in Wikipedia, too!