The Business of Building a Better Society

Duke’s Fuqua School of Business is home to The Dialogue Project, a long-term initiative to explore the role business can play to reduce polarization and improve civic dialogue.

Business understands how to do this. Every day, successful businesses bring people together with diverse experiences and points-of-view to work toward common goals. The Dialogue Project will explore how these skills can be expanded more broadly in our society, and equip business leaders with new tools required to succeed in the emerging stakeholder economy.

Recent research reveals that business is one of our most trusted institutions, ranked higher than government, media and NGOs. This represents an opportunity and a responsibility for business to promote the kind of dialogue and consensus that are critical not just for business success, but also for a healthy democracy.


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Clubs and Activities
New Ideas: A Dialogue Project Competition

Using business as a force for good

dialogue project panel

The Risks and Rewards of Stakeholder Capitalism

Duke’s Fuqua School of Business hosted a discussion as part of the school’s alumni reunion weekend, in which the benefits and pitfalls of companies taking a stand on social and political issues was debated. The discussion was moderated by Bob Feldman, founder of The Dialogue Project, and panelists were Gilberto Caldart MBA ’02, Executive Vice Chairman, MasterCard; Kelly Marchese MBA ’97, Principal, Deloitte Consulting; and Rick Larrick, the Hanes Corporation Foundation Professor and associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at Fuqua.

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ken frazier

Ken Frazier: Listening with Respect

As CEO of Merck, Ken Frazier didn’t shy away from taking a position or making a statement that he knew some employees might disagree with. But whenever he did so, he also listened to their views.

In one case – resigning from President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council – his actions didn’t directly affect his employees. In another case – mandating COVID vaccination – it did. But both times, listening was key. Frazier reflected on these and other experiences in a conversation with Dean Bill Boulding at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

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photo of form PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi: “Companies Can Be a Force for Good”

Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi explains how she designed Performance with Purpose (PwP) at PepsiCo—a strategic initiative that tied revenue goals to societal good. Nooyi says the focus was also on shareholders.

“Performance with Purpose didn’t start with stakeholder theory, didn’t start with ESG, nothing. It started with a simple idea that we wanted to keep delivering performance well into, you know, the next decade,” Nooyi told Dean Bill Boulding of Duke University’s School of Business in a conversation for the school’s Distinguished Speakers Series.

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Panelists discuss the calculus of engagement

The Calculus of Engagement

As business operates in what has become a hyper-polarized environment, business leaders are determining if and how they should engage in critical social issues.  This is tricky new terrain for most corporate leaders. There is no playbook. Employee activism is often the driving force. This conversation among academics and practitioners explores the most compelling, current work in this area and offers new frameworks for consideration.  Moderated by Fuqua Professor Ronnie Chatterji, Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the discussion draws insight from Tuck Professor Paul Argenti, Allstate SVP for Corporate Relations Stacy Sharpe, and Southwest Airlines VP, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Juan Suarez.

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