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Who We Are

The Adam Smith Society

The Adam Smith Society, founded by MBA students at some of America’s top business schools, brings together students and professionals to discuss and debate the contributions of the free market to advancing human flourishing and opportunity for all. Like its parent organization, the Manhattan Institute, the Adam Smith Society is committed to defending free enterprise while welcoming the participation of all open-minded people interested in the competition of ideas.

Our Mission

America’s heritage of liberty and global prosperity owes much to innovators and entrepreneurs; those who imagined new products, processes, and organizations; who took risks; and who embraced the freedom to create and build. Historically, captains of industry have not only driven the growth of the economy, but they have also been among the foremost advocates of the free- enterprise system, publicly expounding the broader societal benefits of the market economy. The future prosperity of our nation will depend on tomorrow’s business leaders’ ability to continue this tradition of promoting free markets.

The Adam Smith Society works to provide a venue where this discussion of foundational ideas can be explored and applied to the current economic environment. We believe that MBA students and business professionals should acquire more than just expertise in areas such as management, marketing, and quantitative analysis—as important as these skills are. They should also come to understand—and be able to defend—the nature of the economic system that fosters job creation, wealth generation, the alleviation of poverty globally, and scientific innovation.

Our History 

In late 2010, the Manhattan Institute partnered with the Marilyn G. Fedak Capitalism Project and began to explore the possibility of building programming at elite U.S. business schools.

Taking the Federalist Society and its success at reinvigorating a discussion of constitutionalism and America’s founding principles within law schools as a model, our goal was to create a new organization that would provide future business leaders with access to contemporary thought leaders who were at the forefront of understanding and promoting the market economy, while giving young men and women the tools they needed to promote a positive and thoughtful understanding of the free-market system on their campuses.  

We began recruiting MBA students to found chapters of the Adam Smith Society at their home business schools in 2011. These students were committed to engaging in dialogue about individual liberty, limited government, and free enterprise—“big picture” ideas—amongst MBA students.

With financial assistance and programming guidance from the Manhattan Institute and the Marilyn G. Fedak Capitalism Project, chapters began to host events with prominent business leaders, journalists, and public officials who inspire students to think about their own responsibility in seeing our economic system endure.

In our first five years, we launched 25 student chapters, five professional chapters, and grew our membership to more than 4,000 members. Looking ahead, we anticipate that one of the biggest impacts of the Adam Smith Society will emerge vis-à-vis our Professional Network. Just as the Federalist Society’s network now includes Supreme Court justices and attorneys at prestigious law firms, we envision our members having commensurate success in business, politics, the media, and other fields. These executives, financiers, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow must be willing to assume a responsibility for perpetuating—and, in key areas, restoring—America’s commitment to a fair, open, and competitive market economy. In fall 2017, we launched our first international chapter in London, United Kingdom. In spring 2018, we launched our first international student chapter at the Hebrew University of Jersualem.

The Adam Smith Society currently has more than 30 student chapters, a larger professional network, and over 10,000 people who have passed through our network.

Over the long term, we hope to see members of the Smith Society emerge as articulate, passionate advocates for free enterprise. We envision professional members in upper management, on boards of Fortune 500 companies, and in leadership in key government institutions.

Our Reader

What Adam Smith Knew: Moral Lessons on Capitalism from Its Greatest Champions and Fiercest Opponents

James R. Otteson (ed.)

This book provides some answers through seminal readings on the nature, purpose, and effects of capitalism as understood by its most influential expositors, both historical and contemporary. In addition to Adam Smith himself, the selections gathered here include essays and excerpts by thinkers ranging from Locke and Rousseau to Hayek and Cass Sunstein. All are chosen and arranged to highlight the ways that capitalism bears on a set of fundamental human concerns: liberty, equality, social order, virtue, and motivation.


"The Adam Smith Society is an impressive young organization that's attempting to do for business schools what the Federalist Society did for law schools."

- William Kristol


“Would I have joined the Adam Smith Society? In a heartbeat. There was nothing like this. There was nothing that could teach you the value of business in the world or teach you that you’re doing something that’s good and worthwhile. [...] A support network of like-minded people would have been wonderful.”

Cliff Asness, Founder, AQR Capital Management


"There are so many fundamental questions about what business does in society and whether it's good or not - I clearly think that, properly defined, business is a creative act. It's very positive. It’s the way people join together to do things and I think it needs to be explained the right way. So I think the Adam Smith Society is on the way to an important question."

- Steven Klinsky, Founder, New Mountain Capital


"A great thing about the Adam Smith Society is that the reception [on our campus] has been amazing. When we held our first event...people started coming up to us saying 'I’m so happy you’re doing this. This is the conversation we need to have!'"

Richard Mozeleski, Chapter Leader, 2013-14, Fuqua School of Business (Duke University)


"I’m proud of what the Adam Smith Society does: what it does for me, what it does for students, and what it does for the name of business in a broader sense...characterizing business as the solution to society’s issues rather than the villain, which it is so often portrayed as in the media. I think it’s a very important message, and to be a part of that is really exciting."

- Scott Keenan, Chapter Leader, 2013-14, Tuck School of Business (Dartmouth College)


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