Knowledge Sharing

WDI Debate Series: The Social Benefits of Profit Maximizing Firms vs. Social Enterprises

These two papers collectively represent the second in an occasional debate series focused on critical topics shaping the curriculum of many business schools as well as the direction of many corporations. (The first debate articles may be found here.) The goal behind this series, which is hosted by the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, is to identify 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, this 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.

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.

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