Business and Markets

2018 Business & Society Program in Words, Photos and Videos

December 21, 2018  • About Business and Society Program

It may be impossible to sum up a year in one or even a few words, but it’s also hard to resist the temptation to try. One narrative that feels fairly fitting for 2018 is this: After a succession of years in which social, political and economic surprises unsettled much conventional wisdom, this was the year leaders both in business and government articulated bold visions for change.

Given the sense both of urgency and opportunity in the moment, it’s only logical that 2018 was also a year of looking carefully at how such hopes could be embodied in day-to-day business operations. Take a month-by-month tour through BSP’s 2018 and both themes will be apparent.


“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

Written in response to an economic landscape it characterizes as “a paradox of high returns and high anxiety,” BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s letter to business leaders maps a path forward in the new year.


This question of purpose raised in Fink’s letter is front and center at “Disrupting Shareholder Primacy,” a discussion of academics, business leaders and journalists hosted by the Business & Society Program at its New York City offices. Special focus is given to the power of narrative changing business impact, as it is in BSP Director Judy Samuelson’s commentary in media.


“I wish we could stop using the word capitalism. It is a 19th-century term, derived from 19th-century economic philosophy.” So begins a speech delivered in London by economist and scholar John Kay. While Kay was commenting on the ways in which Apple is typical of a fast-moving modern business, within a few weeks Spotify’s IPO will provide Judy Samuelson with an opportunity to reflect on where executives should focus in the emerging 21st century business landscape of business.

Photo via Quartz


At a breakfast ceremony and with the support of BNY Mellon, the Business & Society Program recognizes the winners of its 2018 International MBA Case Competition. The first place goes to the team from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, for their work supporting sustainability at premier Singaporean luxury hotel, Marina Bay Sands. You can watch their presentation of their innovative solutions here and read more in depth here.


This year’s winners of the Ideas Worth Teaching Awards are announced! The 20 remarkable courses courses are selected from a global pool of competitive applicants:

Many of these winners will travel from across the world and around the USA to be honored at an awards dinner at the Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, Michigan in October.


A huge month in BSP’s Business Education programming. Charting a New Course, a toolkit for blending business education and the liberal arts, is released. Shortly thereafter, BSP convenes innovative educators from around the world at Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School to explore just these topics at the 2018 Undergraduate Business Consortium. The workshops, discussions and opportunities for reflection at the convening generate lasting spurs to re-think management education.


Photo courtesy of Brian Rumao

Shortly after the 2018 class of First Mover Fellows are announced, the new Fellows travel to Aspen for the first of three convenings in the year-long fellowship. The journey begins!


Elizabeth Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act is another sign of a world where public expectations of business are changing fast. Senior Program Manager Miguel Padró weighs in on the Act with a blog post that covers everything from the minutiae of the Act to American political traditions dating back to the founding of the Republic.


As streets close near BSP’s office, there’s no missing that the UN General Assembly is in session. BSP Deputy Director Nancy McGaw takes the opportunity to write a series of posts exploring how everyday actions at work can contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.


In partnership with The University of Michigan Ross School of Business, the Business & Society Program host Working Towards Shared Prosperity: an academic-executive dialogue on the future of job creation, job quality and shared prosperity. The video below captures the spirit of the exchange between participants from diverse perspectives at the convening:


Our 2018 class of First Mover Fellows meet for the second of the Fellowship’s three convenings. The weather in Wye isn’t quite a match for the blue sky of Aspen in July, but enterprising Fellows make the most of the opportunity to study and reflect.


Investing with Environmental, Social & Governance Factors (ESG) in mind is no longer a ‘niche’ strategy. That much is clear. But where is it going as a field, and how can executives integrate environmental, social and governance commitments into the core of their business operations?

To explore these questions, members of the Aspen Leaders Forum, select investors and other ESG experts convened for an “Art of the Corporate/Investor ESG Conversation” workshop in New York. With environmental issues top of mind following the UN IPCC report on climate change and social issues rising on renewed worker’s voice, the discussion is a fitting bridge to the new year.

Interested what leading experts in business and academia think the new year has in store? Check out their predictions for 2019!