Rotman’s Marxist? Yeah, right.

In his Financial Post editorial, “The Rot at Rotman”, Peter Foster vigorously condemns the Rotman School of Management, fueling this censure with the words of a recently published article by Dean Roger Martin. Foster’s editorial, printed in the Aug. 2, edition of the Financial Post, acts as a stern, if not rather hyperbolized, warning to potential students: “Anybody who thinks he might look to a business school to find a stout defence of capitalism would be well advised to steer clear of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School.”

Foster’s indictment of the school stems from the aforementioned article written by Dean Martin and published in The Globe & Mail and Harvard Business Review. Entitled The New Class Struggle, and co-written by Minhea Moldoveanu, director of Rotman’s Centre for Integrative Thinking, the article asserts that a new “class” struggle has replaced the Marxian one waged between capital and labour.

Foster’s editorial directly contests the merit of a capitalist-driven school by questioning the acumen of its dean. Foster not only judges Martin’s historical knowledge in reference to economic class conflict, he also doubts his basic familiarity with economics. Foster states: “Stripped of its jargon, what [Martin’s] article suggests is that certain talents were in high demand in the 1990s, and thus achieved what seem like extraordinary high rewards. This is economics 101.”

When asked to comment on Peter Foster’s editorial, Dean Roger Martin was very good-natured about the editorial. “I came away thinking he and I have significantly different views of how one should treat tricky and controversial topics. I think we should talk about them, Foster does not; I enjoy it and think it’s good for humanity.”

Dean Martin believes the editorial represents a divergence in opinion and nothing more; he views the editorial primarily as an attack on his method of reasoning. “I think it’s important to talk about corporate responsibility, the role of capital and labour etc, and he thinks these topics shouldn’t be discussed. He thinks dangerous things will happen if we talk about them.” Though not greatly affected by the article, Martin feels the implications made about the Rotman school were unwarranted. “The greatest level of unfairness in his editorial was the condemnation of the entire faculty. I would have rather it been a personal attack instead of one directed at the school.”

A fourth year Rotman MBA student, who wished to remain anonymous, believes Foster’s editorial is unfairly damning of both Dean Martin and the business school. “It is shortsighted to associate an article written by an academic with the beliefs of an entire institution. I would think it is overly simplistic and ignorant to presume that the article written by Roger Martin represents the philosophy of the Rotman school; it was simply an article.”

“Dean Martin” she notes, “has been involved with initiatives associated with productivity and competitiveness.” The Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress, an independent task force led by Dean Martin, is responsible for measuring and monitoring Ontario’s productivity, competitiveness and economic progress in relation to other provinces and the U.S.

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