Better Business – Better Society
The motto of Aalto University School of Business is “Better Business – Better Society”. It reflects the goal of the school: to develop a better society by developing better business. How does the school do this work in practice?
The School of Business generates its greatest societal impact through its large number of graduates who have received a multifaceted education.Each year, approximately 400 students graduate from the school with a master's degree. The knowledge and skills – and attitudes – they learn and utilize throughout their careers have a significant impact on our society. As former Rector Eero Kasanen pointed out at the school’s 110th anniversary seminar in December 2021, during its history, the school has produced more than 50 000 experts for our society.
To ensure that the teaching offered by the School of Business remains relevant and answers to the needs of business and society, the school engages in extensive collaboration with companies and other organisations. In addition to traditional guest lectures, numerous courses deal with current challenges posed by the corporate world, for which the students propose solutions based on the theories they learn. Some of the courses, such as the Capstone courses, as well as the school's programmes, such as International Design Business Management and the Information Technology Program, are largely based on student projects. We constantly get feedback from our students on how the participation of companies in teaching makes studies more varied, interesting, and fun, while advancing their learning.
Attitudes of students are affected by raising important societal themes in their studies, such as sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and by encouraging them to continue learning throughout their careers. Group work plays an important role in teaching for the development of social skills as well as understanding of different backgrounds that people have.
Close-knit collaboration also in research
University teaching is of course based on research in the field of study, but research conducted at the school also has a direct impact on society. Corporate collaboration is often crucial for access to research data, whether it involves data already possessed by the organisation or, for example, the possibility to collect new data through surveys or interview studies. Cooperation with other universities and fields of study also opens possibilities for larger impact.
Examples of current research projects with sustainability focus include the Finix and the Global Energy Transition projects. Finix is a research project on sustainable fashion and textile systems. In the Finix project, the School of Business researchers cooperate with Aalto University’s other schools, other universities, and numerous private and public organisations. The Global Energy Transition project, a joint effort by the Department of Economics and Wärtsilä, collects micro-level data on transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy sources in the energy market. This research helps in the planning of future transitions to maximise efficiency.
From society’s point of view, it is essential to discuss important themes and to share research knowledge beyond our classrooms. This is done, for example, by regular Better Business – Better Society seminars and other events as part of alumni activities, and by communication to the general public both through external media and the channels of the School of Business and Aalto University.
The programmes offered by Aalto University Executive Education also have a significant role in providing life-wide learning for individuals and advancing the development of numerous organisations. Aalto EE has become a significant channel for providing the latest research-based knowledge directly to organisations. Life-wide learning is also supported by e.g. open online courses produced by the school, as well as the offerings of the Open University.
“Better Business – Better Society” also inversely refers to how a society enables better business. A well-functioning society supports companies’ and entrepreneurs’ efforts to “do good” through their businesses. The School of Business also seeks to produce research-based knowledge for governmental actors to support them in decision-making. A good example of this activity is the Aalto Economic Institute, which has participated in more than 20 cooperative projects with both the public and private sectors in the six years of its operation. Examples of these include cooperation with the Ministry of Transport and Communication in the regulation of emissions, and an ongoing research project connected with an early learning experiment in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Culture. Many of the professors in our school also serve as advisers for various organisations, both in Finland and internationally.
Work to develop society continues
Dean of the School of Business Timo Korkeamäki says that he has noticed that a very stereotypical image sometimes prevails in general discussion on the School of Business and on the careers that it prepares for. ‘Although growth and economic development are key components of business activities, business studies have an important wider role in the well-being of our society and in sustainable development. Our alumni follow a very wide spectrum of career paths. During their studies, we seek to give them the tools to have a positive impact on the development of our society, no matter what their duties at work might be,’ he says.
‘Although our school is already doing much on behalf of our society as part of the third task given to the university, there is always room for improvement. We are currently exploring opportunities to increase cooperation with development organisations and SMEs. Good ideas on this connection, as well other suggestions for improvement are welcome.’
Better Business — Better Society Seminar Series
The Seminar Series discusses the current and societally important topics at the School of Business. The seminars will be arranged monthly, generally on the first Thursday of the month, excluding holiday seasons.