Capitalism at Risk: Rethinking the Role of Business

September 28, 2011 • 7:00 – 8:30 pm EDT

Book Presentation:
Joseph L. Bower

Panel Discussion:
William Donaldson
Former Chairman of the SEC, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette

Nell Minow
Founder and Former Chair, Corporate Library
Lynn S. Paine
Moderated by: Terrance (“Terry”) Smith
Special correspondent for the NewsHour

Books will be available


Joseph L. Bower is the Baker Foundation Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard School of Business

Herman B. Leonard is the Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and the George F. Baker, Jr. Professor of Public Sector Management at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Lynn S. Paine is the John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

The spread of capitalism worldwide has made people wealthier than ever before and raised living standards to new heights. But capitalism’s future is far from assured. The global financial meltdown of 2008 came within a hair’s breadth of triggering another Great Depression. Despite stirrings of recovery, economies in Europe are still teetering. And powerful forces—income inequality, resource depletion, mass migrations from poor to rich countries, and religious fundamentalism, to name just a few—continue to pose a serious threat to the prosperity capitalism engendered.
How can the future of capitalism be secured? And who should spearhead the effort? Many observers point to government. But in Capitalism at Risk, Harvard Business School professors Joseph L. Bower, Herman B. Leonard, and Lynn S. Paine argue otherwise. While the authors agree that governments must play a role in saving capitalism, they maintain that businesses should lead the way. Indeed, for enterprising companies—whether large multinationals, established regional players, or small start-ups—the current threats to market capitalism present vital opportunities.
Drawing on discussions with business leaders around the world, the authors identify ten potential disruptors of the global market system and diagnose the causes behind existing institutions’ inability to combat them effectively. They argue that companies must stop seeing themselves as bystanders and instead develop innovative business strategies that address the disruptors, produce profitable growth, and strengthen institutions at the community, national, and international levels. The authors then present examples of companies that are already making a difference.

Please RSVP to

Gerald Hyman
Senior Associate (Non-resident), Office of the President