Skip to main content

Stanford Social Innovation Review | March 2014

Companies across industries are beginning to play a new role in education, one that improves learning outcomes while driving shareholder returns. Seventeen corporate and global education leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum 2014 in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss how they are rethinking the role of business in global education. This transcript of the discussion captures participants' varied insights on the new opportunities for businesses and nonprofits in the sector, how to define desired educational outcomes, and what actions are most needed going forward.

Top Takeaways

  1. Increasingly, companies see enormous potential to drive market growth and profitability by addressing global education needs, from developing cost-effective products that improve learning outcomes to sourcing and training the employees they need to grow their business.
  2. Explicitly measuring educational outcomes and tying those to business results is crucial for creating shared value, but a variety of outcome measures–from academic achievement to interpersonal skills–are needed, depending on the context.
  3. There is a need to move from a transactional relationship between individual companies and the educational system to a comprehensive and coordinated approach, in which companies align their offerings around agreed-upon goals with accountability for their results.
If we can supplement the traditional model of paying taxes and putting money into public schools and making charitable contributions with the right dose of capitalism—with the right objectives and the right alignment to the real needs of society—then we can gain enormous power to change the field of education.

professor michael porter
Harvard business school