Business schools and hubris: cause or cure?

Eugene Sadler-Smith*, Irina Cojuharenco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The attributes of hubris are over-confidence, arrogance, pride, and contempt for the advice and criticism of others. Hubris is fuelled by prior successes and media praise and aided and abetted by complicit followership. It manifests as recklessness and is potentially destructive in that it creates the conditions for unintended negative consequences to arise, leading potentially to destructive outcomes for individuals, organizations, and entire industries. Given the possibility of destructive outcomes emanating from hubris, its prevention and cure through management learning and education could be an important way of tempering the risks associated with a hubris hazard in business. In this essay we offer the "provocation"that business schools may have contributed inadvertently to the emergence of hubris, and a "proposal"that management learning and education is an important means for preventing hubris from taking hold in business. In doing so, we contribute to ongoing debates about business school epistemologies, curricula and pedagogies, and about the nature and purpose of business education and the institution of university business schools. We offer novel theoretical and practical contributions regarding epistemic hubris and epistemic humility, the status of humility as ameta-virtue, and howit may be possible to temper hubris by educating for humility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-289
Number of pages20
JournalAcademy of Management Learning and Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


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