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Tools for Talking to Skeptics

A new semester of teaching my MBA class “Reimagining Capitalism” began last week. My colleague George Serafeim and I have over 300 people taking the course in four classes – nearly a third of the second year class. By way of introduction I asked everyone in my classes to send me a paragraph about why they were taking the course – particularly given that they could be taking obviously useful courses like “Power and Influence” or “Real Estate and Private Equity” instead.

Do you have a moral duty to maximize profits?

In class this week we’ve been arguing about whether publicly traded firms have a moral duty to maximize profits. It’s a contentious idea, but my own belief is that firms only have such a duty when markets are genuinely free and fair: genuinely competitive, properly priced and open to all comers. When this is not the case, to focus on nothing but profit maximization is, I believe, to betray the very commitments to freedom and prosperity on which the legitimacy of capitalism depends.