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Making Sustainability Work: Best Practices in Managing and Measuring Corporate Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts (Business)

16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1576754863
ISBN-10: 1576754863
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Editorial Reviews


A thorough guidebook on strategies and best practices for corporate leaders, strategists, academics, and sustainability consultants * One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2008 * One of Sustainable Industries Best Books of 2008 Faculty members/course leaders: a free 38pp Study Guide is now available to accompany this book. Buy this book! There are books on sustainability and there are books on implementing management practices to support sustainability in real organizations. Making Sustainability Work is in the latter category. Marc Epstein authors the book with over 25 years of industry experience as a senior consultant on the topic of sustainability. His book begins like many others: with an introduction to the topic of sustainability and the customary follow-up discussion on how strong leadership and "buy-in" are must-haves for successful organizational change and implementation. It is at this point that the book separates itself from the pack. Making Sustainability Work contains the most inclusive and comprehensive discussion of measuring, managing and quantifying all of the business risks, benefits and impacts to society and the environment I have seen in a book. A cautionary note to the small business reader: The discussion is derived from large organizations that often have resources dedicated to this type of strategic thinking and analysis that small and medium enterprises often do not. It is often said that what gets measured gets managed, and what gets managed gets done. If this is true, then Epstein's latest book is instrumental and indispensable for moving sustainability to the next level in business. Are you ready for that? Making Sustainability Work is one of Sustainable Industries Best Books of 2008. -- Aaron Berg, Sustainable Industries Making Sustainability Work is an outstanding contribution to the field. This book will be an invaluable resource for senior executives, boards, and managers looking to integrate sustainability into their decision making. Strategic Finance The accessible, often stimulating, style, and the straightforward Corporate Sustainability Model allow readers to dip in and out of the text when addressing different ways of considering corporate social and environmental impacts ... a helpful guide for managers tasked with implementing strategies to embed consideration of social and environmental impacts in large organizations. In an academic environment, it could also be usefully integrated into business strategy and social and environmental accounting courses. Read the full review (PDF) -- Brendan O'Dwyer, Professor of Accounting, University of Amsterdam Business School The Accounting Review Issue 3 (2009) Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer an optional string in the corporate bow, it has morphed and grown. Whatever the motivation for implementing CSR initiatives be it human concern, government regulation, stakeholder pressures or economic profit - multinationals and new start-ups alike are changing. They are realising they must effectively manage their social and ecological impacts in order not just to excel, but to survive. With stakes so high, the question on every corporate leader's mind is how to make CSR a reality. In Making Sustainability Work, Marc Epstein firstly acknowledges somewhat reassuringly the difficult nature of putting these step changes in place. This book spells out the plan to make sustainability happen, with practical day-to-day, results-oriented sense. This is not just a "how to do" guide but very much a "how to get it done" bible. Epstein crucially includes instructions on how to measure the results of CSR initiatives, which is notably lacking in previous texts. Drawing on research into best practices of 100 companies worldwide including Starbucks, Dell and Coca-Cola, the book puts forward a model for implementing sustainability initiatives. Although vast, the topics covered revolve around the following critical areas: * The role of executive management in leading sustainability activities * How organisational design can improve sustainability * Integration of social risk factors into investment, costing and risk * Improving sustainability performance through incentives and rewards * Measuring corporate social, environmental and economic impacts Making Sustainability Work successfully translates the strategic rhetoric of CSR initiatives into practical, real-life use. Epstein provides and explains tools, processes and metrics to produce and monitor true corporate sustainability. This insightful guide will appeal to corporate leaders, strategists, academics, sustainability consultants, and anyone else with an interest in actively practicing sustainability. London Management Centre As a practitioner's guide, Epstein's book offers several virtues not found in other similar sustainability works for managers. First and foremost, his language is the language of business ... Second, sustainability impacts are described using quantitative measures based on Epstein's extensive experience across decades of work with companies. Third, the challenge of sustainability is framed in terms of structures, systems, and procedures ... Fourth, a range of management techniques is offered, including scenario planning to assess future trends. Fifth, the work is peppered with relevant examples to illustrate key points ... And sixth, Epstein does an elegant job in providing a broad strategic vision of the role of global corporations in today's world - a role in which innovation and profit are consistent with addressing sustainability challenges for society and the environment ... Epstein has done a remarkable job of taking the existing methods of management and expanding them to include environmental and social impacts that, until now, were externalized or relegated to the business fringe. Armed with the insights and techniques in this book, practitioners will be able to tackle the sustainability challenges of their organizations in ways that can make them and their companies more successful. Read the full review (PDF) -- Chris Laszlo, visiting professor at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Manageme Promising to deliver the guidance that companies need in order to manage social, economic and environmental impact while remaining competitive, this book boasts its ability as the ultimate "how to do it" guide for corporate leaders, strategists, academics and sustainability consultants. No longer the exclusive territory of smaller, outwardly responsible companies such as Ben & Jerry's and the Body Shop, sustainability is becoming a prerequisite of a successful company worldwide. Covering everything from strategy, leadership and budgeting to evaluation of success and the benefits of sustainability, Making Sustainability Work delivers a compact and achievable guide to conquering what could be a dizzying mountain to climb. The Environmentalist 61 (7 July 2008) Die zahlreichen Beispiele bieten einen Uberblick zum State-of-the-Art des Nachhaltigkeitsmanagements in der Praxis. Fur Controller und Manager bietet es einen guten Einstieg in das Thema. -- Peter Horvath, Controlling 8/9 (August/September 2008) The strength of [Epstein's] book is that it does not just discuss corporate social responsibility but enumerates concrete strategies for generating real and measurable impacts in this area. Epstein's goal is to help corporations develop best practices for corporate sustainability, and he neatly extends his discussion of best practices with reference to applied research. A key question posed and addressed to organizations is, "What are you doing now and what should you be doing in the future?" Epstein answers with a blend of actual business practice and academic research, with a focus on assessment and measurement of sustainability initiatives. This synthesis combining best practices with real, measurable outcomes and conceptual "talk" about corporate social responsibility is a welcome addition to the literature ... Integrating corporate social responsibility into a corporate management construct is a major contribution of Epstein's lucid, well-written, timely work. Summing up: Highly recommended. -- S.A. Schulman, CUNY Kingsborough Community College Choice magazine, October 2008 --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher

* A comprehensive guide to implementing and evaluating corporate sustainability initiatives
* Combines a thorough grounding in the latest research with the best practices of 100 organizations worldwide, including prominent companies such as Canon, Coca-Cola, Dell, FedEx, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Starbucks, Warner Brothers

The best practices in corporate social responsibility (CSR) are no longer the exclusive domain of companies like Ben & Jerry's or the Body Shop; now even companies like GE and Wal-Mart are making significant financial and organizational commitments to social and environmental issues. But senior executives are realizing that implementing sustainability is particularly challenging. While a lot has been written on ethical and strategic factors, there is a dearth of information on the practical nuts and bolts of implementation and virtually nothing on how to measure the results.

In Making Sustainability Work, Marc Epstein builds on his influential and highly respected previous work to produce the ultimate how-to guide for corporate leaders, strategists, academics, sustainability consultants, and anyone else with an interest in actually putting sustainability ideas into practice.

Drawing on the latest research and the best practices of 100 companies worldwide, Epstein provides an extraordinarily complete model for implementing sustainability initiatives. He covers the role of senior managers and corporate boards in leading and governing sustainability activities; organizational design issues that can improve sustainability; integration of social risk factors into capital investment, costing, and risk management systems; incentives and rewards to improve sustainability performance; identification and measurement corporate social, environmental, and economic impacts; and much more.

Many books have been published that describe the need for improved corporate citizenship, but Making Sustainability Work is the first truly thorough guide to going from intention to reality.

"Moves CSR from the theoretical to the practical, offering real-life tools, processes, and metrics for creating a true corporate framework for sustainability."
--Brad Shaw, Senior Vice President, The Home Depot

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Product Details

  • Series: Business
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (January 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576754863
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576754863
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #776,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marc J. Epstein is Distinguished Research Professor of Management at Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Prior to joining Rice, Dr. Epstein was a professor at Stanford Business School, Harvard Business School, and INSEAD (European Institute of Business Administration). In both academic research and managerial practice, Dr. Epstein is considered one of the global leaders in the areas of innovation, sustainability, governance, performance measurement and accountability in both corporations and not-for-profit organizations.

Dr. Epstein has extensive academic research and practical experience in the implementation of corporate strategies and the development of performance metrics for use in these implementations. In many recent articles and books Epstein shows how the use of new strategic management systems can help organizations focus strategy, link to performance metrics, and drive improved performance in organizations. In a recent book, Making Innovation Work: How to Manage It, Measure It, and Profit from It, he applies these approaches to driving increased innovation in large organizations and developing appropriate measures of success. He currently is at work on a new book on innovation that builds on his experiences with the leading corporations of the world and focuses on how to design organizations for growth. The Innovation Paradox: Why Good Businesses Kill Breakthroughs and How They Can Change will be released in early 2014.

He is also currently working extensively in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and South America on innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges and measuring and managing the social impacts of corporations, NGOs, and foundations. Each year he takes all of his MBA students to Africa as part of his course "Commercializing Technology in Developing Countries." In 2011, his book Joining a Nonprofit Board: What You Need to Know was published. In May 2013, his book Pharmacy on a Bicycle: Innovative Solutions for Global Health and Poverty was released. In March 2014, his new book Measuring and Improving Social Impacts: A Guide for Nonprofits, Companies, and Impact Investors will be released.

In 2008, Making Sustainability Work: Best Practices in Managing and Measuring Corporate Social, Environmental, and Economic Impacts, was published to provide guidance to managers and academics on the implementation of corporate social responsibility. A completely revised and updated edition of that book will be released in January 2014. In 2006, his edited series The Accountable Corporation (with Kirk Hanson) was published with four volumes including Corporate Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility, Business Ethics, and Business-Government Relations. He has since written extensively on corporate and non profit board governance, the role of boards of directors, organizational trust, the business case for sustainability, and corporate accountability.

He is the author of twenty books and well over 200 professional papers that have won numerous top academic, professional, and business awards. He also is Editor-in-Chief of a top academic journal. Dr. Epstein also provides seminars, executive courses, consulting, and lectures to senior managerial audiences throughout the world.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Landser 08 on January 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Making Sustainability work does a significant contribution for practitioners on how to put sustainability principles and ideas into practice. We have seen in the past other important contributions about sustainability. The difference regarding this new book is in putting these ideas in a very explicit way; emphasizing on the challenges of integrating sustainability into the business strategy and in the decision-making that encompasses the implementation of successful strategies at the firm level.

The book goes further giving valuable guidelines in practical methodologies on how to measure social and environmental risks and impacts and in the implementation of systems inside the firms for permanently monitoring such impacts. This has been a weakness in some of the literature we have seen in the past. Making Sustainability Work addresses the necessary evaluation of the impacts of sustainability initiatives on the financial performance to correctly assess the convenience of implementing them in terms of the benefits to both, the firm and the stakeholders. Finally, we have in a very amenable reading style, an important guide for practitioners on how to put sustainability principles into practice.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Frank Roettgers on February 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a book that provides you with a comprehensive understanding what sustainability in an organization is about and how other companies handled this topic, your search is hereby over. There are a few books out there which only contain the theory about the sustainability concept. Epstein's "Making Sustainability Work" provides a well balanced mix between introducing theory and examples of best practices. Covering a lot of topics such as sustainable leadership style, sustainable cultural frameworks, risks associated with sustainability, social impacts, and reporting systems Epstein touches most of the areas that either impact the sustainability of an organization or are influenced by it.

However, sometimes I had the feeling that he could have gone more into depth. E.g. in chapter five, where he covers performance evaluation and reward systems, I missed a few deeper insights into what really motivates employees and aligns them with sustainable strategies. Furthermore, I missed the part about how to market sustainability internally and externally. Nevertheless, the given advices based on Epstein's experience are reason enough to read it, not to mention the most valuable best practice examples.

- Frank Roettgers, author of Going Green Together - How to Align Employees with Green Strategies
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jean Francois Manzoni on January 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Epstein's book aims at filling an important void: After years of arguing that sustainability is essential, there are now very few senior leaders and organizations that deny the need to "do something". What these leaders and organizations now need is solidly grounded help and guidance to "make it happen", i.e., to re-shape the behavior of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of managers and employees so they become better able to generate financial performance in a more sustainable way.

Epstein reviews the major levers that top management can use to make employees more willing and better able to do so: the organization's structure, processes, information flows, the performance measurement, evaluation and rewards systems, the behavior of senior leaders, are all reviewed and discussed. The book builds on Epstein's years of research in this area. It contains scores of examples and is written in a very readable style. It's a great book for leaders who are now convinced their organization needs to do better, and want to "make it happen".
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. Smith on February 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Whereas others have argued for why corporations must attend to social issues, Epstein helps us understand how. Epstein provides in-depth, thoughtful analysis that integrates the relevant research in the field about how to more effectively manage corporate social responsibility. He grounds this analysis in extensive examples of companies actively grappling with these issues. In doing so, he provides a manual for both academics and practitioners to understand what we know today about how to manage corporate social responsibility , and provides a set of questions for the issues that we must grapple with tomorrow. This book is a must read for anyone who cares about the success of companies and who cares about the future of our communities and our planet.
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Format: Hardcover
Management professor Mark J. Epstein conducted extensive academic research into the best social and environmental - that is, sustainability - practices of 100 companies worldwide. Drawing on that knowledge, he developed a "Corporate Sustainability Model" to show business leaders how to implement the right organizational processes to create, measure and promote corporate social responsibility (CSR) and "corporate social opportunity." The book is quite dense and academic, with much of its information packed into evocative but complex charts, so it seeks a professional audience. getAbstract recommends it to corporate decision makers as a well-informed, thorough manual.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. Birchard on February 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you want a single book on how to make your company sustainable, this is the book for you. Epstein distills the latest and greatest thinking into a sensible and comprehensive program for delivering environmental, social, and financial excellence. You don't need to look further for a guide to retool the machinery of your organization to create value for all stakeholders. Epstein is a renowned expert in the field of managing for sustainable performance. It's amazing how many insights and examples he fits into this easy-to-ready book. A great contribution to the field.
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