Business leaders are routinely taught that what it means for a business to serve society is to donate their profits to charity. We propose to replace this philosophy with a better one: free enterprise, markets, and business are themselves means of solving social problems.
We are interested in these big questions: How can markets and free enterprise solve the problems that charities and governments cannot? What is the difference, if any, between social businesses and regular for-profits--or can all for-profit businesses really be cast as social businesses? Since so many charities fail to achieve their goals, how can and how does business pick up the slack? How can entrepreneurs accomplish what charities and governments have not? What makes one form of charity more effective than another? Why?
We propose to implement a three-year combined research and pedagogical project to both answer these questions and to help train future business professionals to use these answers to guide their practice. We will host researchers and sponsor conferences on the topics of social entrepreneurship, values-oriented business, and effective altruism. We will revise our curriculum to make student-created social entrepreneurial projects the keystone of the MBA experience, and expand our current undergraduate entrepreneurial projects. We will produce at least one and possibly two textbooks with Oxford University Press to export our research and pedagogy to other business schools. We will produce a range of peer-reviewed articles and white papers on these big questions. We will host symposia to help spread this approach to other schools.