The conference concluded at our Chicago campus, and featured an in-depth exploration of corporate governance with experts from a wide variety of backgrounds. The keynote address was given by Nobel laureate and Harvard professor Oliver Hart, who discussed research on corporate social responsibility. Chicago Booth’s Randall S. Kroszner moderated the keynote discussion.

We also welcomed Booth professors Steven Neil Kaplan, long-time corporate board member Mary Bush, ’71, and Vanderbilt University’s Margaret Blair for a panel discussion called, The Business of Business. The conversation was moderated by Gillian Tett of the Financial Times.

Friedman argued that the only responsibility of a business is “to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game.” And yet the past half-century has seen the rise of activist investors and social responsibility pronouncements from heavyweights like BlackRock and the Business Roundtable.

Our panelists examined whether or not these events signal a shift away from Friedman’s “business of business” doctrine.


1 Hour: The Business of Business with Margaret Blair, Mary Bush, ’71, and Steven Neil Kaplan, and moderated by Gillian Tett of the Financial Times.

1 Hour: Keynote address by Nobel laureate and Harvard professor Oliver Hart. Moderated by Randall S. Kroszner.

Stigler Center

The conference, Corporate Social Responsibility Revisited, was part of a larger discussion centered on the anniversary of Milton Friedman’s op-ed, which included Political Economy of Finance 2020: Should Corporations Have a Social Purpose? a conference hosted by the George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State.

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