Business Activities are Part of God's Created Order, Dr. Peter Klein reflects on Baylor's EMBA programMay 8, 2019
Dr. Peter Klein is the director of Baylor’s PhD program in Entrepreneurship, the faculty director of the Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise, and he teaches an annual strategy course in Baylor’s Executive MBA program.
A professor since 1995, Dr. Peter Klein joined Baylor University’s faculty in 2015. “It’s been a pleasure, a real thrill for me to come to Baylor,” he says, because “Baylor is very different in important ways from other universities.”
He describes how, as a private Christian university, Baylor “performs the same kinds of activities as other institutions: we do research projects, we offer degrees—but we have this sense of higher purpose.” According to the tenured teacher, being a “mission-driven” organization means “incorporating Biblical principles into everything that we do ... from emphasizing ethical behavior, to really thinking about how business activities are part of God’s created order.”
Not everyone, of course, equates “business” with “virtue.” The world has seen its fair share of corrupt business practices and self-serving leaders. Baylor’s responsibility, then, as Dr. Klein sees it, is to make sure that “the practice of free enterprise, of offering goods and services in the marketplace to people who may wish to consume them, can be used to accomplish great things in God’s kingdom.”
“We’re Trying to Change the World”
Just how Baylor goes about that starts “at a simple level: in the way Baylor faculty, staff, and students treat each other with respect.” Compared to the large secular, public universities that Dr. Klein worked at previously, he notices “a difference in the environment at Baylor,” asserting, “Most people are here because they want to be here, because they buy into the broader mission of a distinctly Christian institution that excels in research as well as teaching and outreach.”
It continues in the classroom, where, Dr. Klein says, “We’re trying to change how people think, and by extension, we’re trying to change the world.” EMBA students, he admits, are already “mature professionals” with “a whole set of experiences relevant to business.” Most times, “They know more about their own industries than someone like me will ever know.” Still, “The idea,” he continues, “is to challenge them to think in new ways; to expose them to different perspectives from ones they’ve seen before.”
New Ways of Thinking and Leading
Giving the metaphor of “the forest and the trees,” Dr. Klein notes: “Some mid-career professionals are so close to the individual trees in their business, or their market, or their industry, that it’s hard for them to step back and see the forest.” By bringing together “all these smart, experienced people” in one room, Baylor’s EMBA program pairs students “with people who are very different from them” to learn new ways of thinking and leading that, ideally, roust them from the familiar, single-minded approach they’ve been “steeped” in since entering the workforce.
Equally as valuable, says Dr. Klein, is uncovering commonalities: realizing that, “Gosh, even though every company has its own specific issues, at the end of the day, there are these vital threads running throughout.” The professor’s job is to “introduce some general principles, some theories, some frameworks that cut across industries; to say, ‘Look, whatever problem you’re going through right now with your business, your career, or your life, at one level, other people have gone down that road before.” Understanding their connection fosters empathy and creative problem-solving in students—and thereby, their respective workplaces.
The Best Job in the World
Here, Dr. Klein reminisces about why he first got into teaching. “When you start out thinking, ‘Oh, I want to be a college professor,’” he smiles, “what comes to mind is wearing a tweed jacket with elbow patches and smoking a pipe.” In reality, “a lot of my day job is administrative stuff, filling out forms ... It’s not always as exciting as you want it to be.”
“Nonetheless,” he affirms, “I really can’t imagine doing anything other than this kind of work. I love teaching and I love doing research. I love Baylor students. I think this is the best job in the world.”
ABOUT BAYLOR EXECUTIVE MBA
Designed for the high-achieving, working professionals, the Baylor Executive MBA Healthcare program is rigorous and relevant. The 21-month curriculum is delivered in a cohort format, one night a week in Austin, TX. This program allows professionals to balance the demands of working full-time while completing an MBA. Visit www.baylor.edu/AustinEMBA, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BaylorEMBA, and follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BaylorEMBA or Instagram at www.instagram.com/bayloraustinemba