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Jesuit business education differentiates itself by being grounded in the Ratio Studiorum (a compilation of central educational principles established on the foundation of the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus) and by employing Ignatian pedagogy (a method of instruction based on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola).1 Jesuit business programs make a substantial commitment toward developing and implementing mission-based statements of purpose and distinction. Typically, these efforts emphasize the central importance of ethics within the curriculum, including specific principles such as social responsibility, sustainability, stewardship, and social justice. With this research, we focus on social responsibility because it is an emerging business philosophy that constitutes a central theme in the Jesuit business curriculum. As Jesuit business programs continue to emphasize social responsibility in the curriculum, it becomes imperative to evaluate the effects of this mission-driven effort on Jesuit-educated students. A logical first step would be to conduct descriptive research that analyzes how Jesuit-educated business students understand social responsibility. The objective of this study is to examine which socially responsible business practices are most important to Jesuit-educated business students, and how this order of importance may change as students advance from an undergraduate business program to a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, and finally, in the workplace following graduation. We find that, as Jesuit-educated business students progress from undergraduate to MBA status, and then to MBA alumni, their social responsibility priorities seem to migrate from more abstract societal issues to concerns that might be more relevant to their own life situations. Implications of this research for Jesuit business schools and future research are discussed.



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