Teaching Innovation Program

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University (United States)

Social Enterprise Management

Team Members:
Daniel Diermeier
Tim Feddersen
Traditional business school curricula are not particularly well-structured or organized to help managers develop an appreciation for the broader social environment in which managerial decision making and leadership exist. The standard management disciplines (marketing, finance, strategy) operate from a rich research base, and they are focused primarily on for-profit business enterprises, giving different weights and interpretations to the broader social, political and cultural business environment. Other areas such as business ethics, social innovation, socially responsible management practice, as well as public and not-for-profit management, either lack a rigorous foundation and/or are simply separated from the rest of the management curriculum. As a result, the entire social impact area has, to this point, lacked a defining paradigm that has enjoyed credibility with researchers in mainline disciplines in U.S. business schools. Our Social Enterprise Management (SEM) program would seek to integrate social impact management into a broader management education program that would combine our strong resources and create an underpinning of research and teaching methodology for the areas of social impact management and a sustainable global society. Our mission is the following:

The Social Enterprise Management curriculum prepares students for leadership positions within corporations, and non-profit and public organizations, by giving them the opportunity to pursue an in-depth study of the interplay of stakeholder groups within the broader political and social environment in which these organizations must pursue their missions.

The program would combine a rich set of competencies, including:
  • How private business firms fail and thrive as a function of how well they grasp the nuances of the media, regulatory and legal environment and anticipate action by activist and interest groups in those arenas.
  • The management of non-profit organizations including NGOs, volunteer and philanthropic organizations, and educational institutions.
  • The management of public institutions including governmental agencies and international organizations. The economic underpinnings of regulatory and fiscal policies and how regulatory and fiscal policies can affect the cost structures and strategic opportunities of business firms.
  • The need to appreciate how ethical dilemmas and complexities can arise and the importance of thinking through the ethical ramifications of decisions.
  • How socially responsible strategies can position firms to achieve competitive advantage in the markets in which they operate.
Scholars affiliated with the Social Enterprise Management Program would approach the analysis of these issues from a number of disciplinary lenses, including political science, economics, and social psychology. We have no doubt that the next three years could see this program create a solid administrative structure led by top interdisciplinary faculty and an advisory board including corporate leaders with first-hand knowledge of the importance of social impact management. We believe that the program will quickly enjoy widespread student participation that will spur on long-term research and begin to provide a base of knowledge that will lead business education into the future.

The Aspen Institute Center for Business Education is part of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program.
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