Editor's Note: This is a summary of an HBS Business Summit presentation. View a full summary and video of the event on the HBS Centennial Web site linked below.
|Date of Event:||October 14, 2008|
|Moderator:||Michael Porter, HBS faculty|
|Speakers:||Thierry Breton, France's Former Minister of Economy, Finance, and Industry; Senior Lecturer, HBS|
Sir Ronald M. Cohen, Chairman, Portland Capital LLP, Portland Trust, Bridges Ventures
Lawrence H. Summers, Director of the White House's National Economic Council; Charles W. Eliot University Professor, Harvard University
Professor Michael Porter led a discussion among panel members on the shortcomings of the capitalist system and ways the business community can better serve broader societal interests. Topics included social entrepreneurship, the role of public policy, and the development of a stronger safety net for workers.
Today, the world faces an agonizing dilemma: Wealth creation comes from market capitalism, yet the market system has been hard for many parts of society, resulting in insecurities and inequalities. Under political pressure to make changes, the business world and the public sector must devise strategies and policies for revamping the capitalist system.
Possible solutions include applying business principles to societal problems through social entrepreneurship, and seeking profits in ways that also make a broader contribution to society.
Key concepts include:
- There is a growing sense that capitalism is failing.
- The capitalist system must change and help to support a safety net for workers.
- Social entrepreneurship is coming of age, but must be developed into a formal profession.
- In addition to social entrepreneurship, broad-reaching public policies are needed.
- There are many ways businesses can address social problems, while still satisfying their own self-interest.