WDI's David Butz leading discussion with research participants


With an extensive network of leading experts around the globe and strong capabilities in-house, the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan is a unique and nimble research collaborator. For more than 25 years, WDI has engaged world-renowned faculty from the University of Michigan—one of the nation’s leading public research universities. Scroll down to see our Featured Papers and click here to read the articles making up our Debate Series. 

Through a blend of field-based experience and academic rigor, WDI partners with U-M and faculty from other top universities, as well as enterprising U-M graduate students, to strengthen businesses, universities and nonprofits in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). From the beginning, our work has embodied our founder’s mission of transferring business knowledge to decision-makers operating in LMICs.

Featured Papers

Close up medical syringe with a vaccine

A Method for Estimating the Impact of New Vaccine Technologies on Vaccination Coverage Rates

stethoscope on laptop

Network Externalities & Decisions about Investments in Health Information Systems in LMICs

Illustration of man and woman communicating in different languages

Improving Organizational Performance through Cross-Sector Learning: Lessons from Measurement

University student in the M2GATE program engaged in a video call with classmates while taking notes.

Business Education Disrupted: An Opportunity for Redesign

Magnifying glass on page

Developmental Evaluation in Theory versus Practice: Lessons from Three Developmental Evaluation Pilots

Debate Series

The WDI Debate series focuses on issues currently under discussion in both business schools and the business community as a whole. Unlike other debates, this series focuses not only on points of disagreement, but also where the authors have staked out common ground. As a result, each paper contains three separate essays: one written by researchers taking one side on the issue, one written by researchers taking the other side and a third jointly written by all of the authors that clearly lays out the areas of agreement and disagreement. In this way, both sides have the opportunity to present their case, but are also forced to recognize areas of agreement and clarify areas of disagreement. The goal of the series is to provide a venue for “a thoughtful and civil exploration of what everyone can and cannot agree upon.”

The Social Benefits of Profit Maximizing Firms vs. Social Enterprises

This particular debate centers on the following question: To what extent do social enterprises that do not maximize profits provide a solution to the many challenges facing the world today? In the essays that follow, two different views are presented. 

The Role of Business: Positive Lens vs. Profit Maximizing

In this debate, you will see two separate responses to the question of the role of business. One will discuss the merits of the positive lens approach to business and one will discuss the merits of focusing on shareholder value maximization in business. These are followed by an article in which all of the authors agree on the similarities and the differences.

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