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Life of the Mind lecture explores how business schools can deliver economic opportunity

Emory Report | March 9, 2016

“Turning to Business: The Role of Business Schools in Addressing Inequality” is the title of the Life of the Mind lecture on Thursday, March 17, at 4 p.m. in the Jones Room of the Woodruff Library.

Life of the Mind lectures, created and curated by the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Council, offer faculty members an opportunity to share their research in an informal setting with a broad audience of faculty, students, staff and the Atlanta community. The event is free and open to the public.

Peter Roberts, professor of organization and management and academic director of Social Enterprise @ Goizueta (SE@G), will discuss how more and better market-based initiatives can address many of the issues related to poverty and inequality.

Roberts says his perspective derives from his experience as founder and head of Social Enterprise @ Goizueta, which focuses on applying business acumen and market-based solutions to achieve meaningful and enduring societal impacts.

“Once we turned our attention to social entrepreneurs around the world, micro-entrepreneurs in marginalized U.S. communities, and specialty coffee growers in the developing world, it became clear that we need to think more deeply about the current limits to market-based activity when it comes to delivering broad-based economic opportunities," he explains.

“Groups of individuals who lack the appropriate combinations of market knowledge, business networks and access to investment capital are those that find themselves in the lower tails of income distributions," he says.

Integrating academic work with fieldwork

Roberts will share ideas about how and why business schools must become better at understanding and addressing structural limitations to broad-based prosperity.

Is addressing inequality and poverty taking a risk for business schools?

“Yes and no,” Roberts says.

“Yes in the short run, because this kind of work does not align with the dominant motivations for students entering business schools," he says. “No in the long run, because learning about how business and markets can deliver broad-based prosperity and added societal value must become one of the dominant mandates for business school faculty and leadership.”

Robert notes that at SE@G, “we are working to integrate our academic research with innovative fieldwork in order to learn more about social sector issues, and to refine the role of business schools when it comes to addressing these issues.”

His talk will be introduced by Emory alumna Alicia Philipp 75C, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

Following this Life of the Mind lecture, Provost Claire Sterk will host a Faculty Salon from 5-6 p.m., offering an opportunity to continue the conversation from the lecture and discuss any matters of interest. 

Faculty, students, staff and anyone interested are welcome to participate in the salon.