Paper / E-Poster to be Presented at University Malaya in April 2018.
The traditional theory of economics—and, by extension, business schools—stems from assumptions of a rational man: homo economicus. This man, representative of the average citizen, has been—for centuries—presumed to be narrowly self-interested and a utility maximizer. Multidisciplinary research rooted in psychology in the 1980s and 1990s began to challenge these assumptions, leading to emergence of a discipline now called behavioral finance. This school of thought is more cognizant of and incorporates the innate cognitive biases exhibited by the average man. Its most celebrated advocates also note that when facing risk and uncertainty, humans tend to resort to heuristics to arrive at decisions rather than deep contemplation. Moreover, contrary to prior belief, humans are loss-averse, not risk-averse. In today’s age of informational overload where uncertainty is by far more replete than certainty, types and ambit of risks in need of handling by business school graduates appear to grow rapidly. While number of schools offering business degrees flourish, the Malaysian experience of incorporating elements of behavioral finance in the programs’ curricula has been sluggish. In fact, no business school yet offers a full-fledged degree; a trend that is slowly—but surely—changing in the West. This paper, through surveying the endemic business school curricular practice in Malaysia, advances a case for introducing behavioral finance content at undergraduate level degrees as a stepping point to future possibilities of introducing full-fledged programs as the discipline grows in breadth and depth. The arguments of this theoretical paper, I argue, are extendable to other disciplines where groundbreaking paradigm shifts threaten to render obsolete the traditional means of navigating life’s travails in a risk-savvy fashion.