Business will be a primary contributor to solving the big social problems of the 21st century. While business strategy analyzes competition and markets, firms also pursue non-market strategies to influence politicians, and politicians seek to benefit from firms. Governments pursue not only political goals, but often pro-market strategies. This course takes a realistic variation on these themes to ask: when do firms, markets, and politics work to resolve the big social challenges of this century. These challenges are the consequences of inequality, corruption, climate change, immigration, and inclusion. The course is organized around these major challenges, ranging from income equality to immigration to the quality of work life. Our approach is to set out the argument why firms should be engaged in contributing to social and political solutions and more importantly to identifying what can be done.
The course is designed to provide an understanding of the economy and society that recognizes that governments, business, unions and other non-state organizations pursue their individual success by solving collective problems. The cases, readings, and speakers speak to the merits of market or government or business, as well as to their limits. The class makes the case for thinking innovatively rather than hoping that solutions can be imposed. This then is a class for those who want to consult on policy and strategy, who want to lead or start businesses to solve tough social problems as part of their business strategy, investors who want to invest in large social projects because they are sometimes profitable, and for those socially-engaged who want to understand how markets provide the scale to make a difference.
Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Professor of Leadership and Ethics
Bruce Kogut is the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Columbia Business School. He teaches courses on Governance, Governance and Ethics, and Business Strategies and Solving Social Problems. He has taught in executive programs in the US, Europe, and China.
His current research focuses on governance and corporate compensation, social capital markets and social metrics, and the...