What is the Business of Business?

Andreas Nilsson, David T. Robinson

NBER Working Paper No. 23505
Issued in June 2017
NBER Program(s):Corporate Finance, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

This paper develops a simple framework for understanding the emergence of new organizational forms, such as socially responsible firms and social entrepreneurs, that embody the private sector's efforts to resolve problems that typically have been within the purview of government and traditional public charities. We consider organizations that can generate both financial and social returns. Differences in the technologies between the for-profit sector and the social sector give rise to comparative advantages and play a key part in the analysis. This allows us to analyze the conditions under which hybrid organizations emerge in place of traditional charities and profit-maximizers.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23505

Published: What is the Business of Business?, Andreas Nilsson, David T. Robinson. in Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 18, Lerner and Stern. 2018

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Slavov, Gorry, Gorry, and Caliendo w23506 Social Security and Saving: An Update
Mehrotra and Morck w23460 Governance and Stakeholders
Kaplan w23464 Are U.S. Companies Too Short-Term Oriented? Some Thoughts
Erel, Jang, Minton, and Weisbach w23493 Corporate Liquidity, Acquisitions, and Macroeconomic Conditions
Ahn, Kaplan, Moll, Winberry, and Wolf w23494 When Inequality Matters for Macro and Macro Matters for Inequality
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us