1. Conscious Capitalism—Bikes
Bindu Agrawal, professor of entrepreneurship, Sri Sri University in India
I believe value-based decision-making is the solution to current and future business challenges. And I find Conscious Capitalism—Bikes by Marketplace Simulations a wonderful pedagogy to teach it. Raj Sisodia’s Conscious Capitalism is a new way of thinking about business that goes considerably beyond the traditional focus of profit maximization: embodying service to all stakeholders while striving to make a positive impact on society. Simply telling students to be part of the solution will not serve the purpose. It’s easy to agree to be a conscious business leader in principle, but doing so in practice is very difficult.
This simulation gives students the opportunity to experience what conscious capitalism feels like in the day-to-day functioning of a business. Students investigate various business scenarios and outcomes with the help of a highly contextualized computer model. Then they make difficult decisions about how to allocate limited resources, considering competing priorities and a commitment to all the company’s stakeholders. They navigate complex scenarios, striving to strike the right balance between “doing well” through profit maximization and “doing good” through socially conscious business management. When they are in charge, students get to see and feel the pain—it is not enough to be a good person. It is more than that; it is to protect those that depend on you.
For example, which is the greater responsibility, protecting your workers and neighbors from harmful chemicals or creating more wealth for company owners? Which is better, to engage and involve your employees in decisions or to create more wealth? These are some of the dilemmas that students face in the simulation. Conscious capitalism demonstrates that both are achievable. Taking care of stakeholders creates a caring culture, which positively impacts employees, customers, suppliers, the community, and the bottom line.
One of my students, who comes from a family business background, was not convinced by the idea of spending more money for the community and employees at the cost of lesser return to the business owners. He was surprised to see that working as a conscious capitalist contributed to a better company reputation and an increase in market share, leading to more returns to the business owners, and his perception and mindset shifted. He shared his experiences with other students and, as a result, this discussion became the hot topic of debate in the students’ WhatsApp group. The emotional part of learning is where change occurs. I smiled seeing this transformation and felt satisfied having achieved my course learning outcomes.