On November 8,
2005, the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business sponsored a lecture on
business ethics by Robert W. MacGregor, chairman of PRO International, the
business consultancy agency. The hour-long talk, entitled “Manifestation of
Ethics in Various Business Areas,” focused on the adverse effects of
corruption on a country’s economy.
His presentation was the last in a three-part series held by the School of
Business, which included one on interview skills and getting a job.
MacGregor began his lecture by arguing that Lebanon “has more potential than
any other country in the Middle East,” but that this potential is being
hampered by “corruption and bad governance.” Praising the capacity and
aptitude of Lebanese youth in general, MacGregor criticized AUB students for
“sitting around, doing nothing.”
MacGregor then cracked down on world-known corruption scandals, such as the
United Nations “Oil for Food” program scandal in 1996 and the Italian
corporation Parmalat scandal in 2005. “You cannot control people through
laws alone, but through values,” said MacGregor. He urged business leaders
to “get together and make the necessary change,” and called on the youth of
Lebanon to initiate campaigns of change. Recalling a personal experience, he
explained how owners of businesses and companies could affect a government’s
choice and force it to “shape up.” He remembered how he and a group of
entrepreneurs countered corruption in the state of Chicago by “threatening”
to stop investments in the state.
MacGregor filled West Hall’s Auditorium B with tales of corruption and the
measures he and others had taken against it. Concluding the lecture, he
announced that he would be traveling to the African continent, India, and
Bangkok as part of a program to guide chambers of commerce on how to
maintain business ethics and thwart corruption.
MacGregor has a distinguished career as a leader, and has received numerous
awards as an elected and appointed government official and top
private-sector officer. He is president emeritus of the Center for Ethical
Business, affiliated with the University of St. Thomas Business School. He
is the former president of the Lebanon-based INDEVCO Foundation and
president of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. MacGregor is also
active with the International Chamber for UN Global Compact, and initiated
and headed development of the Caux Round Table Principles for Business, the
circulated business code of conduct.