Exploring the Longitudinal Transformative Impact of Service-Learning: A Case Study of Community-Engaged Graduate Business Education

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University business schools are being asked to develop students who create positive societal impact after graduation. Although service-learning has often been connected to these types of behaviors, there is a shortage of research considering the long-term impact of service-learning on the perspectives and behaviors of MBA students after they graduate and enter the workforce as business leaders. Using the lens of transformative learning theory, in this study, I expand on Kiely’s transformative service-learning process model by exploring the longitudinal impact on MBA students enrolled in the Brainstorming to Bankrolling course, a community-engaged, service-learning course offered through the SURE program at the University of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business. I conducted semistructured interviews with nine MBA alumni 3–5 years after the program and completed a focus group and document review with nine graduate business students at the end of the course to explore how they experienced the program’s impact on their perspectives and behaviors in their careers and lives over time. The findings suggest specific structural, personal, and programmatic aspects of this program helped develop more inclusive, encouraging, and altruistic perspectives in participants. These perspective changes drove behavior changes related to career choice, inclusive leadership communication, and positive societal impact. This study demonstrates how immersive, service-learning programs based in business theory and involving extended and meaningful interactions between students and local businesspeople who are different from themselves can provide sustained perspective and behavior changes among MBA graduates related to positive societal impact.

Embargo status: Restricted until 06/2024. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.

conscious capitalism, service-learning, societal impact, transformative service-learning, masters of business administration (MBA), perspective transformation