The fellows of International Academy of Management met in Santiago de Chile for the 2017 Conference “The Corporation the World needs: Alternative Proposals”. The purpose; to identify the challenges and opportunities for new sources of private and social value.
This year’s conference was hosted by ESE Business School and featured distinguished scholar, CEOs and social leaders to engage in powerful conversations on the topic of the conference, how business corporations could enhance their role as agents of social benefit and where the consequences for the role of business leaders.
The conference was inaugurated with a gala dinner in which the dean of Universidad de los Andes and a group of Latin American corporate leaders joined the IAM fellows and conference key note speakers. This meeting also attracted local attention and press coverage, including CNN.
On Wednesday morning the conference was inaugurated by Undersecretary of the Treasury, Alejandro Micco who thanked the IAM and the fellows for choosing Chile and for the ideas they were bringing to the public discussion of the business corporation. Right after the dean of ESE Business School, José Miguel Simian also thanked the IAM for the gift of visiting Chile and the institution.
The IAM Chancellor, professor Alfredo Enrione provided an overview of how the business environment and the challenges for those in charge had evolved over the last two decades. During his intervention Enrione stated that “the world has changed creating a high level of uncertainty. Uncertainty is being interpreted as risk because we lack the tools, skills and theories to tackle these new “wicked problems”. Leaders exhibit a great level of anxiety. We could even say fear”. Finally he introduced the keynote speakers and how they could provide insights to deal with the new status quo.
Professor Robert Widing, Dean of the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, presented “Business as an agent of world benefit: Adam Smith’s timeless admonitions ti governments, producers, and opponents of globalization”. In his view the world is under the threat of mercantilism and protectionism.
Professor Sanjay Sharma, Ph.D. Dean of Management at Grossman School of Business of the University of Vermont, presented: “Business schools as agents of change in business,” in which he highlighted a new model of MBA education that consists of preparing leaders to run sustainable companies that not only take over the common business, but to discover new profitable opportunities and challenges.
Luis Huete, Ph.D. IESE Business School University of Navarra, presented: “Leading for the common good: What is good for you and society is also good for business” in which he stressed the key ideas of synergy and symbiosis.
The local perspective was presented with a round table of Q/A with tow distinguished business leaders. The former minister, political leader, corporate chairman and entrepreneur Oscar Guillermo Garretón and the business leader, institutional investor and trade association leader, Jose Antonio Guzman. They both acknowledged that the public enterprise is under serious questioning by Latin American Society. Collusion, accounting fraud and other scandals have eroded the public trust. They also converged in the need to defend the role of the public corporation as agent of economic and social development.
However, when asked “how” there were different opinions. On one side Mr. Guzman argued that corporations should invest more in promoting the intellectual discussion of ideas, financing think tanks and scholars that promote free markets and liberty. On the other hand, Mr. Garreton claimed that that was not enough. If corporations and business leaders want to be heard by key social actors they need to engage in frank conversations and most importantly, learn to listen without judgment. To conclude, the director of the Center for Business Ethics of ESE Business School, Alvaro Pezoa, presented a summary of the conference addressing the challenges for corporations as well as those leading them.
“A company is not only an institution where factors of production are brought together and produce something that is later sold, but is a community where its ultimate purpose are people. The culture of an organization is very relevant, since a company must be able to undertake, maintain its values, ways of being and how it wants to be”, said Pezoa. He concluded that “leadership is fundamental for a company, it is about having not only extrinsic and intrinsic but also transcendent motivations, to leave a mark on others and not only to compete, but to collaborate and help others to grow “.
After the public conference, professor Enrione conducted a private lunch where the fellows exchanged impressions with a group of social and business leaders. Several fellows described it as a mind blowing experience where they learned about the particular Latin American challenges, problems and potential solutions. The discussion was so lively that most stayed until 5pm.
Later in the evening, the Chancellor and his wife Judith hosted a private dinner at his home in honor of the IAM fellows and its board.
On Thursday morning the fellows and board reconvened to discuss about the impact of the conference and the future of the organization. The conference was a definite success.
Most IAM fellows returned home on Thursday but a small group stayed for the weekend and enjoyed the wines of Casablanca Valley and the unique ambiance of Valparaíso.