The MIT Sloan Executive MBA Law Elective

During the January 2017 Mid-Career Electives Week, I will be offering 15.S25, "The Law and Tough Calls"

This course will meet on Friday and Saturday, January 13-14.

The course description is set out below: 


15.S25 -- The Law and “Tough Calls”

In any organization in the US, certain consequential and complex law-sensitive problems typically get “kicked upstairs.” There are multiple reasons for this: the need for adept and mature judgment because our legal system can be very harsh on a fumbled response; the fact that often only senior managers have a close relationship with legal advisors; and sometimes because the law is explicit that senior management is where accountability comes to rests – it is “where the buck stops.”  Participants in our mid-career programs have advanced in their careers to where they will often face responsibility for these law-related “tough calls.” 

Moreover, recent political events suggest (at least to this instructor) that we here at Sloan have underestimated the extent to which what might be called the “social contract” as it relates to work is under stress.  Some of the “tough calls” to be discussed in this course will be seen by some as having a bearing on those concerns. 

The instructor is a lawyer.  The managerial problems upon which we will focus are all law-sensitive, and we will begin the exploration of each with an outline of the legal framework.  But the issues we consider will all be ones for which the law does not provide a clear or complete answer, and in this class –  as in the outside world – a manager will need to make a more complex decision than whether and how to obey the law.  The solutions available to the manager will take shape “in the shadow of the law” but will also draw on other considerations, including the values of the organization; the manager’s own values, principles and ethics; the manager’s view of the right balance of competing loyalties among different stakeholders; and the manager’s view of the right weight to give to self-interest. 

The course will focus on concrete, realistic scenarios and cases.  We will draw heavily on class discussion and the personal experiences of our mid-careers.  Some examples of the kinds of situations upon which we will focus: managing in a crisis; the limits of hard bargaining; “fighting fair” in adversarial circumstances; balancing loyalties when a senior manager leaves a company for a competitor; the risks of “trusting” relationships in the markets for complex financial products; managing the sharp legal and cultural disparities that can arise in cross-border transactions around practices such as corruption; and managing personnel decisions that have important implications for a firm’s view of its relationship to its rank-and-file employees or to a firm’s approach to diversity.   

Our discussions will typically begin with the US, but always with the addition of a comparative transnational perspective.

                                                                                            (last revised 12/11/16)