A renowned Harvard professor debunks prevailing orthodoxy with a new intellectual foundation and a practical pathway forward for a system that has lost its moral and ethical foundation.
Free market capitalism is one of humanity's greatest inventions and the greatest source of prosperity the world has ever seen. But this success has been costly. Capitalism is on the verge of destroying the planet and destabilizing society as wealth rushes to the top. The time for action is running short.
Rebecca Henderson's rigorous research in economics, psychology, and organizational behavior, as well as her many years of work with companies around the world, give us a path forward. She debunks the worldview that the only purpose of business is to make money and maximize shareholder value. She shows that we have failed to reimagine capitalism so that it is not only an engine of prosperity but also a system that is in harmony with environmental realities, the striving for social justice, and the demands of truly democratic institutions.
Henderson's deep understanding of how change takes place, combined with fascinating in-depth stories of companies that have made the first steps towards reimagining capitalism, provide inspiring insight into what capitalism can be. Together with rich discussions of important role of government and how the worlds of finance, governance, and leadership must also evolve, Henderson provides the pragmatic foundation for navigating a world faced with unprecedented challenge, but also with extraordinary opportunity for those who can get it right.
Corporations and industries must shift the capitalist paradigm from maximizing shareholder value to "build great products in the service of the social good," according to this lucid and optimistic manifesto by Harvard University business professor Henderson (coeditor, Leading Sustainable Change). To combat "massive environmental degradation, economic inequality, and institutional collapse," Henderson identifies five key areas of reform: creating shared value between businesses and consumers; building "purpose-driven" organizations; establishing financial metrics to measure the environmental and social impact of business practices; cooperating on sustainable, self-regulatory standards across whole industries; and private sector support for democratic reforms. Henderson backs her claim that such changes are possible by citing numerous examples, including Unilever's profitable development of a sustainable tea supply chain, King Arthur Flour's commitment to empowering employees, and the partial repeal of North Carolina's "bathroom bill" under public and corporate pressure. Though Henderson's case to industry leaders is strong, her suggestions for general readers (eat less meat, "get political," become "values-driven intrapreneurs'" within their companies) feel scattershot. Nevertheless, this accessible and richly detailed call to action offers a clear vision for policy makers and business executives who agree with Henderson that the private sector has an obligation to tackle the world's biggest problems. Daniel Stern, the Stern Strategy Group.