University of Southern California

Teaching How to Give Back: USC Marshall Launches Society and Business Lab (SBL)
Educating the Next Generation of Business Leaders while Creating Social Responsibility Practices
September 24, 2008 • by News at Marshall

September 24, 2008 -- The USC Marshall School of Business announces the establishment of its Society and Business Lab (SBL), a ground-breaking program designed to encourage corporate engagement and social responsibility while educating students and preparing them for future leadership roles.

SBL will launch in October 2008 with a $1 million commitment from the Foundation, the nonprofit division of, a company founded and led by USC Marshall alumnus Marc Benioff. Another $300,000 was granted by The Lord Foundation.

The Foundation will present its written commitment to the Lab at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting on September 24 in New York City.

"Future executives and entrepreneurs ask us every day how they can integrate social responsibility into their careers and companies, but few education resources exist," said Benioff, who is known for creating's innovative 1-1-1 model of giving 1 percent of its founding equity, product, and staff time into its foundation and its charitable causes. "I am pleased that USC Marshall is establishing itself as the thought leader in this field of study that is so important to the future of philanthropy, our economy and global corporate culture."

"The formation of SBL establishes Marshall as a leader in studying how business and society intersect, and comes at a crucial time with the corporate world seeking new, socially responsible programming in their communities and globally," said USC Marshall Dean James G. Ellis.

SBL is led by Adlai Wertman, who joined Marshall last November as Professor of Clinical Management and Organization and serves as the director of the Lab. Wertman, who spent 18 years as an investment banker, is a well-known leader in the social enterprise arena as the former president and CEO of Chrysalis, a Los Angeles-based homeless agency.

It was during his time in the nonprofit world that Wertman discovered that while corporations and community organizations may want to help each other, the two often "speak different languages" and need help to learn how to work together. "The corporate world is often unfamiliar with the specific needs of the community and non-profits often have limited understanding of business resources. We are gearing up to create new models by becoming a bridge in helping synthesize the needs of the corporate and nonprofit communities," he said.

The Society and Business Lab aims to be that intermediary. In October, the SBL will launch with four main components, including a bridging program, the first of its kind at a university business school, which will conceive and design new models to help corporate entities harness their non-cash resources to benefit communities. One of the Lab's original corporate partners and participants in this program is Nike, whose goal is to focus on leveraging its core business competencies, including funding research and development, innovation, marketing, employees, products and partners in order to increase positive social and environmental impact and create meaningful change.

The Lab will also include curriculum with coursework in social responsibility, social enterprise and ethics; serve as a center to coordinate Marshall's student and faculty nonprofit consulting efforts; and support faculty research in conjunction with the bridging program.

The fifth element of the Lab, a social enterprise incubator, is expected to come online at a later date. Global social entrepreneurs in the incubator will access USC and alumni resources to create mission-based for-profit and non-profit startups. With hands-on experience and modeling of proactive initiatives in the corporate sector the SBL will provide the Marshall community with a unique experience in this emerging field.

About the Society and Business Lab
The Society and Business Lab (SBL) is the first proactive lab setting for integrating the best of business and social thinking in an effort to address world problems. The lab brings new models for social involvement to bear in the major corporate world. It applies academic and business skills to nurture social entrepreneurs and trains the next generation of responsible business leaders while providing a base for related academic research.

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.