MELBOURNE — Something new is happening at Harvard Business School. As graduation nears for the first class to complete their master of business administration since the onset of the global financial crisis, students are circulating an oath that commits them to an “ethical” pursuit of their work; “to strive to create sustainable economic, social and environmental prosperity worldwide”; and to manage their enterprises “in good faith, guarding against decisions that advance my own narrow ambitions but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.”

The wording of the new MBA oath draws on one adopted in 2006 by the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. The fact that it has been taken up by the world’s most famous business school is significant. As of this writing, about 20 percent of the graduating class have taken the oath. That will, of course, prompt cynics to ask: What about the other 80 percent?

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