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Debora Spar

Debora Spar

Jaime and Josefina Chua Tiampo Professor of Business Administration; Senior Associate Dean, Business in Global Society Unit Head – Harvard Business School

Our guest today is Debora Spar professor and Business In Global Society Unit Head at Harvard Business School. She is here to discuss a course called The Social Purpose of The Firm that is required in the first year curriculum of the MBA program.

In our conversation we discussed the origin of this course, why it’s important that all students go through it, and what the objective of the class are. We also talked about “purpose driven businesses” – company that aim to tackle large societal problems while also generating a profit. Deb delved into some of the unique characteristics of some of this businesses and the people who start them and join them.

Finally, since she is seeing first hand some of the brightest members of Gen Z who are about to enter the work force, we talked about what makes that Generation Unique and wonderful and gives her great hope for the future.

Key Moments

[4:37] The Social Purpose of the Firm – origin and goal of the course

[13:06] Generation Z – observations on the students and what makes the generation unique

[17:08] Purpose driven businesses that try to tackle large societal issues at scale and what makes them unique


Deb Spar Episode 18

Websites or

Debora’s Website –

Other Debora Spar Links

Debora’s Twitter – @deboraspar

Linkedin – 

Debora’s Books (also available on her website)

Work Mate Marry Love How – Machines Shape Our Human Destiny

Wonder Women – Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection

Ruling the Waves: – From the Compass to the Internet, a History of Business and Politics along the Technological Frontier

The Baby Business – How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception

Authentic Leadership for Everyday People

Podcast Instagram – @al4edp

Podcast Twitter –

Authentic Leadership for Everyday People on Facebook –


Susan Cattaneo: