January 23, 2019
Y2E2, Room 299

In CEOs We Trust: Evaluating the Power of Companies to Shape Our Moral, Social, and Political Culture

An Academic-Executive Dialogue between Joel Peterson (Stanford Graduate School of Business & JetBlue) and Brian Coyne (Stanford)

Time & Location

January 23, 2019
Y2E2, Room 299
473 Via Ortega Stanford, CA 94305

Transportation & Accommodation

Dinner included


A liberal democracy is, in large part, concerned with the legitimacy of state power. Not only do we elect our political leaders, but we place strong limits on the extent to which government can regulate, interfere, and otherwise shape our lives. One could argue that the very idea of a liberal democracy—built on the ideas that all men are created free and equal and should thus govern themselves—assumes a certain level of distrust of government as an institution.


Comparatively scant attention, however, is paid to the legitimacy and limits of power wielded by non-state institutions. One could argue that, in a liberal democracy, citizens shift trust away from government to civil society, comprised of the individual citizens themselves and the institutions they form, the largest of which is the business sector.


Recent trends encouraging corporations to advocate for significant moral, social, and political causes raise interesting questions about the role of the corporation in a liberal democracy. To what extent should citizens in a liberal democracy trust corporations in this regard? Is it appropriate for a corporation to wield its influence in favor of a moral, social, or political cause? If so, are there limits? How best should a corporation “win the trust” of the general public? JetBlue Chairman and Stanford GSB professor, Joel Peterson, and Stanford Political Science lecturer, Brian Coyne, explored these questions and more during the Academic-Executive Dialogue.

6:30 pm - Dinner
7:30 pm - Discussion
8:15 pm - Q & A
8:45 pm - Conclude




Lecturer, Department of Political Science, Stanford University



Chairman of the Board, JetBlue Airways

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