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Authors: Karthik Ramanna
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Originally published in: 2014
Version: 26 November 2014
Revision date: 19-Dec-2014

Abstract

Societies face many pressing challenges with serious implications for business leaders. These include pollution and climate change, poverty and income inequality, obesity and public health, and corruption and regulatory capture. This note presents a way of analyzing the economic, legal, and ethical implications of these challenges for business leaders, in their capacities as corporate fiduciaries and citizens. The note offers a unifying framework by organizing major contemporary societal challenges into four tragedies of the commons and by developing the notion of a capitalist's contract that can help students consider how they, as future business leaders, will respond to these tragedies.

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Abstract

Societies face many pressing challenges with serious implications for business leaders. These include pollution and climate change, poverty and income inequality, obesity and public health, and corruption and regulatory capture. This note presents a way of analyzing the economic, legal, and ethical implications of these challenges for business leaders, in their capacities as corporate fiduciaries and citizens. The note offers a unifying framework by organizing major contemporary societal challenges into four tragedies of the commons and by developing the notion of a capitalist's contract that can help students consider how they, as future business leaders, will respond to these tragedies.

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