Since Milton Friedman’s assertion that the social responsibility of business is to make profit and distribute it to shareholders, several streams of research have examined various roles for the positive impact of business in society. Corporate responsibility research has examined the obligations of business to its various stakeholders, the study of social enterprise has explored the role of organizations with prosocial missions, and still other scholars have examined the shared value proposition that business can create shared value for multiple stakeholders.
However, all of these approaches presume Milton Friedman’s assertion that positive social impact within a business must come at the expense of the business’ core operations. This paper questions that premise, suggesting instead that business has the potential to create positive social value in eight specific ways even in the absence of a prosocial mission, corporate responsibility activities, or public-private partnerships.
By maximizing these eight core prosocial roles of business in society, we argue, business as an institution can maximize its positive social impact and realize its potential as a stabilizing force in global society.