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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Free market capitalism is one of humanity's greatest inventions and the greatest source of prosperity the world has ever seen. But it's also on the verge of destroying the planet and destabilising society in its single-minded pursuit of maximising shareholder value. 

Rebecca Henderson, McArthur University Professor at Harvard University, argues for a new framework; one that can simultaneously make a positive societal impact by confronting the realities of the environment and the need to address social and economic inequality, while also delivering sustained financial performance to ensure economic growth that brings prosperity and well-being to society as a whole. 

Drawing on the lessons of companies from around the world who are acting on this responsibility - who are not only surviving but are thriving, becoming leaders in their industries and beginning to drive the wheels of change - Professor Henderson proves that this is not only a moral imperative for business but also the only way to remain competitive in our changing world. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio on our Desktop Site.

©2020 Rebecca Henderson (P)2020 Penguin Audio

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Excellent timely book

Every business person and entrepreneur should read this book. It is well researched and gives clear insight into how business should respond in the current climate. As a Business School lecturer it is now top of my reading list.

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Purpose driven firms can change the world - a bit

The premise of this book by economist professor and former management consultant specialising in corporate re-engineering Rebecca Henderson is that by re-imagining capitalism business can save the world. This is indeed a bold claim, particularly when you consider that corporate entities exist in a competitive world where their stated goal of management is to maximise shareholder value, meaning that profits come before anything else. There are some strong examples cited in this book as to when companies have make changes to improve the world and where goals have been re-set to achieve public benefit rather than shareholder value such as the reductions in CFC use that effectively preserved the Antarctica ozone layer. It is clear that re imagining capitalism needs re imagining of accounting standards too, however ESG reporting (Environmental, Social, and Governance) which measures a company's social impact, is currently work in progress with only Japan effectively implementing this properly. Family companies are inherently more purpose driven than capital markets or private equity and it is this concept of having a wider purpose that is central to the ideas of this book. It is very hard for large multinational business to change their ways, for example when major consumer goods companies collaborated to reduce the use of palm oil but failed and this resulted in further deforestation of the Indonesian rain forecasts. Noble as the aims of this book are, there is still a long way to go, particularly when USA the world's largest economy is one of the three countries in the world not to sign up to the Paris Climate Change Agreement (the other two being Nicaragua and Syria). It is an interesting analogy that when film-makers decide to "re-imagine" a classic, this usually means bringing it up to date to re-shoot in a way that is more palatable for modern audiences with little change to the original concept. I suspect that if we really are going to "save the world", something more radical that the re-imagining of capitalism as portrayed in this book is required.

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  • Al Davidian
  • 19-11-20

Dignified, thorough, authoritative, wise

I greatly appreciated both the rigorous scholarship of this work, as well as its sober yet nonetheless compassionate and responsible message. The urgency call to reframe prosperity and the means to secure it in ways that consider and redress the threat to our species and our beautiful home planet is suffused with ample case studies, data and grace. Brava