Exploring the role of the private sector in shaping institutions of capitalism

Business and the Public Sector

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I. Introduction​​​

  1. Introductory session: Moderator Paul Healy - January 30, 2014
    Rebecca Henderson (HBS), Discussant Jan Rivkin (HBS)


Post-seminar Materials​​

II. Diagnosis: Unpacking the relationship between the private sector, institutional structures and the broader social and political context

  1. Global governance: Moderator Karthik Ramanna - February 6, 2014
    Rafael Di Tella (HBS), Discussant John Ruggie (HKS)

  2. Post-seminar Materials 
  3. Inequality/Poverty - Moderator David Moss - February 13, 2014
    Christopher Jencks (HKS), Discussant Mary Jo Bane (HKS)

  4. Pre-reading
    ​And also recommended...
  5. The Environment - Moderator Rebecca Henderson - February 20, 2014
    Jody Freeman (HLS), Discussant Michael Young (FAS)

  6. Pre-reading ​

III. Disciplinary perspectives

  1. Sociology/History - Moderator Rakesh Khurana - February 27, 2014
    Frank Dobbin (FAS), Discussant Sven Beckert (FAS)

  2. Pre-reading ​
  3. Economics - Moderator Karthik Ramanna - March 6, 2014
    Andrei Shleifer (FAS), Tarun Khanna (HBS)

  4. Pre-reading ​
  5. Comparative political economy -  Moderator David Moss - March 13, 2014
    ​Bruce Kogut (Columbia), Discussant Suzanne Berger (MIT)

  6. Pre-reading
    And also recommended...

  7. Psychology - Moderator Joshua Margolis - March 27, 2014
    Cass Sunstein (HLS) & Max Bazerman (HBS), Discussant Joshua Greene (FAS)

  8. Pre-reading
  9. Political philosophy - Moderator Nien-he Hsieh - April 3, 2014
    Arthur Applbaum (HKS), Discussant Marshall Ganz (HKS)

  10. Pre-reading

       Study Questions:
    1. Rawls gives an account of a hypothetical social contract. But a hypothetical contract, one might say, isn’t worth the paper it’s not written on. Why should an imaginary agreement have any normative force over us?
    2. What is the basic structure of society, according to Rawls, and why is it the first subject of justice?
    3. Rawls says that, among other major social institutions, the organization of the economy belongs to the basic structure of society (258). What does he mean by the organization of the economy? Is each for-profit corporation a part of the basic structure of society?
    4. Rawls says that his two principles of justice apply only to the design of the basic structure, and not to particular economic transactions. Why not? Shouldn’t we act justly in our everyday dealings?
    5. Robert Nozick argues that no injustice can arise from the repeated application of the principles of just acquisition and just transfer of holdings. Rawls denies this, claiming that even if no one had ever acted wrongly in the entire history of acquisitions and transfers, nevertheless unjust distributions of wealth and income can result. How, according to Rawls, can this be?
    6. Justice as fairness does not assume any history of injustice that requires restitution or remediation. How can Rawls ignore past injustice?
    7. “Individuals and associations cannot comprehend the ramifications of their particular actions viewed collectively, nor can they be expected to foresee future circumstances that shape and transform current tendencies” (268). What does Rawls think follows from this? Does Rawls think that governments do a better job than individuals and associations in foreseeing future circumstances?
    8. “[W]e arrive at the idea of a division of labor between two kinds of social rules” (268). What is this division of labor?
    9. How does the original position model citizens as free? How does it model citizens as equal?
    10. Suppose the fair equality of opportunity condition is entirely satisfied by an education system so marvelous that children are able to develop their talents and abilities to the fullest, unhindered by disadvantaged social backgrounds. Does Rawls still have a reason to require that remaining inequalities benefit the least advantaged (the difference principle)? Why isn’t this unfair to those who have worked hard to develop their talents and abilities?
    11. Why is the counterfactual of how one would fare in an actual state of nature of no use at all to Rawls?
    12. “[I]f it is asked in the abstract whether one distribution of a given stock of things to definite individuals with known desires and preferences is more just than another, then there is simply no answer to the question” (282). Why is this so, according to Rawls? Do you agree?
    13. “We have a right to our natural abilities and a right to whatever we become entitled to by taking part in a fair social process” (284). What do we not have a right to, according to Rawls?
    14. Rawls says that limits on the accumulation of property are required to preserve the fair value of political liberty and fair equality of opportunity. Why?
    15. What are the obligations of individuals, associations, and corporations in a society that falls short of a just basic structure? Are they entitled to their lawful incomes? Must they engage in fair market transactions only? Does “fair market transaction” have any meaning under the circumstances?
    16. Rawls speaks of “pure procedure” throughout. What does he mean by pure procedure? Where does pure procedure play a role in his theory, and where does it not?
    17. “[I]deal theory, which defines a perfectly just basic structure, is a necessary complement to nonideal theory without which the desire for change lacks an aim” (285). What does Rawls mean? Is he correct?
    18. ​Justice as fairness is constructed for one autarkic political society, bracketing off interactions with other countries. Rawls does not address questions of global justice and international relations in a systematic way until The Law of Peoples (1999). But if the aim of justice as fairness is to specify fair terms of social cooperation, shouldn’t global justice be baked into the theory from start? We are enmeshed in a vast web of social cooperation across many markets for goods, services, labor and capital with the rest of the world.

IV. Towards solutions: Exploring alternatives

  1. Inequality/Poverty - Moderator David Moss - April 10, 2014 
    Larry Katz (FAS), Discussant Jeffrey Liebman (HKS)

  2. Pre-reading

    Post-seminar Materials​​

  3. Global governance - Moderator Paul Healy - April 17, 2014 
    Daniel Carpenter (FAS), Discussants Richard Freeman (FAS) & Larry Summers (HKS)

  4. Pre-reading:
    And also recommended...
  5. The Environment - Moderator Rebecca Henderson - April 24, 2014 ​
  6. Henry Lee (HKS) & Michael Young (FAS)​​​​​ ​​And also recommended...​
    • "No Silver Bullet.pdfNo Silver Bullet.pdf." Ruggie, John Gerard. In Just Business: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights. WW Norton, New York, NY, 2013,  Chapter 2 , p.37-p.80.
  7. ​Co​nclusions and Next steps - May 1, 2014
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