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Guest Profile

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Stephan Chambers

Institute Director

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About Stephan

Stephan Chambers is the inaugural director of the Marshall Institute at LSE. He is also Professor in Practice at the Department of Management at LSE and Course Director for the new Executive Masters in Social Business and Entrepreneurship.

From 2000 to 2014 he directed the University of Oxford's MBA, overseeing its rise in international influence and rankings. In addition, he was the founding Director of Oxford University's Executive MBA programme.

Before joining the Marshall Institute Stephan Chambers was the Co-Founder of the Skoll World Forum, Chair of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Director of International Strategy at Saїd Business School, Oxford University.

He is a Senior Research Fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford, sits on the advisory board of Princeton University Press, and is a Director of the Britdoc Foundation, the Dartington Trust, the University of the People, and the Dragon School.

Stephan Chambers wrote a regular entrepreneurship column for the Financial Times and, in 2014, was special advisor to Larry Brilliant and Jeff Skoll at the Skoll Global Threats Fund in California. He teaches entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial finance.

Episode Overview

Director of LSE’s Marshall Institute, Stephan Chambers, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss research on philanthropy, social entrepreneurship; their Masters in Social Business & Entrepreneurship and more.


The Marshall Institute is a research centre, a place for teaching and a driving force for convening diverse stakeholders.


They tackle hard problems such as how to make our world sustainable and how to cultivate altruism.  Stephan provides context for these challenges: we misallocate resources, we don’t understand the real effect of incentives on human behaviour, we don’t price bad things properly, and we don’t reward good things properly.


During the podcast, we have a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation, ranging from Stephan’s career trajectory and personal drivers, to the Marshall Institute’s Executive Masters in Social Business and Entrepreneurship and their key research focus areas: altruistic capital and the hybrid economy.


Many interesting questions are explored, such as how do we encourage the population to be more philanthropically engaged?


When looking at what would constitute success in the next 10 years, Stephan notes: there’s a slight frustration with the hubris associated with our ‘movement’… he hears all the time that we are going to solve climate change, end poverty, and create sustainable food security.


But, we know these problems are continuous and that we don’t end them. Rather, we address them more or less successfully, but we don’t end them.


So, success is modest and bounded: he cares about accelerating the impact of his own students, and he also measures success on the effect these students and the Marshall Institute have on this system within universities. If what is being done at the LSE is replicated elsewhere, and if in 10 years’ time lots of other universities are producing courses similar to what’s being offered at the Marshall Institute, he would consider this to be success.


Stephan’s key takeaway: we used to think of entrepreneurship and philanthropy as things that were discretionary or elective. You could choose to do them if you were that way inclined.  His argument is that the state of the world is such that neither of these things is elective anymore.  Neither of these is discretionary anymore.  Unless we – all of us, all the time – make common cause with the rest of humanity, we’re in big trouble. Unless all of us, all the time think of our roles in the world as different; as necessarily challenging and innovative; unless we are all prepared to create new rules, we’re finished.


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Additional Resources

Stephan Chambers on LinkedIn

Marshall Institute at the London School of Economics - LSE

Altruistic Capital - Research

Hybrid Economy - Research

Executive MSc Social Business and Entrepreneurship - LSE

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