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Embedded Sustainability: The Next Big Competitive Advantage Hardcover – April 13, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Sustainability thought leader Chris Laszlo and his co-author Zhexembayeva's new book is a magnificent and highly readable tour de force of business strategy and innovation that shows how sustainability is a natural and important progression in thinking about business value. They make a crucial distinction between earlier piecemeal ('bolt-on') approaches to sustainability and the newer generation of strategies that embed sustainability within the core business of the enterprise. The book is a must-read for all serious business executives and managers. It illustrates key points through case studies and examples that provide a clear understanding of how to execute on a strategy of embedded sustainability."—Dr. Ram Nidumolu, Founder and CEO, InnovaStrat, Inc.

"Business strategy and competitive advantage are essentially about choice and discipline, though rising ecological and social pressures have left many organizations around the world floundering in terms of what those strategic choices and discipline should look like. Smart leaders will quickly seize on Laszlo and Zhexembayeva's blueprint for embedded sustainability as the foundation for the new economic logic of competitive advantage. Embedded sustainability is the essential discipline for market leaders."—Mason Carpenter, M. Keith Weikel Professor of Leadership, University of Wisconsin–Madison

"We are in the midst of a tectonic shift: The industrial corporate model of the 19th century is dying and being replaced by the sustainable enterprise model of the 21st century. In this new world of declining resources, radical transparency, and increasing expectations, 'corporate social responsibility' will no longer be enough. In this book, Laszlo and Zhexembayeva show clearly that the defining characteristic of the successful 21st century corporation will be its ability to embed sustainability in every fibre of its being. And, even more importantly, embedded sustainability will hold the key to future profit and value creation."—Stuart L. Hart, S. C. Johnson Chair in Sustainable Global Enterprise, Cornell University and author of Capitalism at the Crossroads

"Chris Laszlo and Nadya Zhexembayeva have not only created a compelling guide for businesses to do well while doing good through Embedded Sustainability. They have also affirmed the critical importance of linking rigorous analytical developments to the testing ground of engagement with real-world problem solving. This book should be required reading in the programs from which future business leaders will emerge."—Rebecca Chopp, President, Swarthmore College

About the Author

Chris Laszlo, Ph.D., is the author of Sustainable Value: How the World's Leading Companies Are Doing Well by Doing Good (2008) and The Sustainable Company (2003, paperback 2005). He is an Associate Professor at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management, where he is the Faculty Research Director at the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value. Chris is also the co-founder and Managing Partner of Sustainable Value Partners, LLC, an advisory services firm specialized in sustainability for business advantage. 
Nadya Zhexembayeva, Ph.D., is the Coca-Cola Chair of Sustainable Development at IEDC-Bled School of Management, the European business school based in Slovenia, where she teaches leadership, organizational design, and sustainability strategy. Nadya currently serves as Vice-President of Challenge:Future, a global youth think tank. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value at the Weatherhead School of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio. Nadya is also an Associate Partner of Sustainable Value Partners, LLC.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford Business Books (April 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804775540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804775540
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ante Glavas on March 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Embedded Sustainability is a must read for any business leader and actually anyone living on this planet. The authors provide a compelling case that it's not a choice whether business should embrace sustainability. If a business is to succeed, sustainability should be part of a company's DNA due to declining resources, increased (radical) transparency, and also increasing expectations from stakeholders. However, the question still remains as to how to embrace sustainability. Others have noted as well - such as studies by McKinsey as well as Boston Consulting Group and MIT - that sustainability is not a choice for companies anymore. However, what is missing is understanding the how of embedding sustainability into a company's strategy and daily operations. In that respect, the authors provide an excellent roadmap for organizations. Actually, I do not know of any other book at this time that does so. That is why I think it is a must read. If sustainability is no longer a choice and if there is no better current resource on how to implement it, Embedded Sustainability is a book any manager who wants to succeed needs to read.

Although the book is written in business venacular, implicit in the book is a positive message and hope for the future. If our planet is to become sustainable, not only must business be part of the solution; but also, business can also transform its own image. Currently, business leaders are among the least trusted and most looked "down upon" people in society (very close to politicians). Yet, it can be these same business leaders that can help us get out of this mess we created.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Embedded Sustainability makes a compelling case that sustainability is here to stay, and that organizational leaders should embrace the opportunities created by this new phenomenon. Premising their case on the three distinct but interconnected trends of declining resources, radical transparency, and increasing expectations, Laszlo and Zhexembayeva present a powerful new paradigm to turn these challenges into organizational advantage.

Highlighting that the boundaries between organizations, customers, the media and government are blurring, the authors argue that it is time for sustainability to migrate from a bolt-on strategy running parallel to the organization's key strategy to becoming holistically embedded in the culture and operational dynamics of the organization.

A must-read for senior leaders of organizations of all sizes, as well as consultants and scholars, this book describes how to create strategy that creates value for both shareholders and stakeholders of the organization - a concept that the authors term sustainable value. What differentiates this book from other sustainability books is that the authors' work is founded upon research, and not just supposition, while maintaining easy readability. In taking this scholarly approach, this book avoids the trap of ideology that so often surrounds sustainability, and delivers a pragmatic roadmap for organizations serious about competing in the new world reality.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Embedded Sustainability makes an attempt to communicate its readers that the corporate world must embrace now and in the future a new model of economic thinking that incorporates in their actions the “embedded” environmental and social costs associated with corporate decisions and activities in order for them to have a promising business future. This is a welcoming call and one that is currently being made buy other authors in the economic fields (see Pavan Sukhdev writings for instance) including the multiple discussions today in the field of design and architecture. However, in the manner in which this new book is designed, the narrative is a bit circuitous (if not clumsy) using a narrative that is forever cyclic, zigzagging and delaying, forcing the reader to go over the first 150 plus pages still wandering if the authors are ever going to reach a crucial point (thesis) so that we can start enjoying a meaningful discussion. Italo Calvino‘s “Six Memos for the Next Millennium” instructed all of us on the need for lightness, quickness and exactitude, much in the same manner that Vitruvius instructed architects to fallow the virtues of firmitas, utilitas, venustas (solid, useful and beautiful). In essence, the thesis of the book is in the last six pages of the Afterword that requires 224 pages of introduction explaining the “big picture.”
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Format: Hardcover
I applaud Laszlo and Zhexembayeva on their highly readable ground breaking book that charts the way for executives to lead their organizations in a changing world. As pointed in the MIT Sloan Management Review's Sustainability & Innovation Survey of global Corporate Leaders the trend towards companies adopting sustainability practices is clear. However even of those embracing sustainability few have figured out how to be truly strategic and transformative in their approach.

As the three big trends highlighted in Embedded Sustainability (declining resources, radical transparency, and increasing expectations) take hold the rules of business success will fundamentally change. While many in business are seeing this changing landscape only a few visionary CEOs have begun embedding sustainability in ways that will enable their organizations to capitalize on one of the biggest business opportunities of the 21st Century.

The history of business is littered with "has been" companies who failed to anticipate and embrace change from outside their everyday field of vision. For example, Fortune 50 companies of the 70's and 80's included names such as Bethlehem Steel, RCA, ITT industries and Eastman Kodak; companies that no longer exist or are mere shadows of their former selves. And of the original Fortune 500 Companies of 1955 only 11 are still on the list.

The winners of tomorrow must not only anticipate a new world, they must also shape the future and transform their organizations. Embedded Sustainability is the definitive strategic and transformational guide for those executives who will lead their organizations to emerge as tomorrow's winners. The book leverages the latest and most innovative thinking in strategy and organizational transformation and uniquely integrates this with an original groundbreaking approach to creating opportunity while addressing the greatest challenges mankind has ever faced.
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