From Publishers Weekly
Corporations can indeed do well by doing good, argues this dutiful if not entirely convincing manifesto on responsible capitalism. Laszlo, a consultant and co-author of The Insight Edge: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Evolutionary Management, urges corporations to adopt a "planetary ethics" of environmental and social sustainability, one that cherishes "stakeholder value"-for everyone from employees to environmental activists-as much as shareholder value. He showcases companies whose enlightened policies have enhanced the bottom line in the form of reduced waste and cleanup costs, fewer regulatory hassles, new business opportunities and heightened appeal to socially conscious investors and green consumers. Laszlo endeavors to translate social and environmental concerns into the language of marketing and corporate strategy, writing in the kind of flow-charted, bullet-pointed management-ese ("Process cost reductions can be addressed in the framework of existing operational efficiency initiatives such as Six Sigma...") that executives feel they can understand and implement. So thorough is the corporate sustainability overhaul he demands that it involves "five logics," "five phases," "six areas of strategic focus" and "eight disciplines." Laszlo's belief that there are no unresolvable conflicts between shareholders and other stakeholders, or between profit and ethics, may strike readers as wishful thinking, and his assumption that self-interest will impel corporations to clean up their act can seem optimistic, but well-meaning executives will find much food for thought here if they can digest it.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Laszlo, a consultant with a corporate resume, contends that companies that make the transition from focusing exclusively on shareholder value to integrating into their bottom-line strategy stakeholders' economic, social, and environmental interests will significantly enhance innovation and growth. Using the terms corporate responsibility and sustainability interchangeably and identifying stakeholders as employees, local communities, and nature, the author notes that the likely leaders in sustainability will be the private or semiprivate companies with sales of $100 million to $2 billion; the largest corporations may fear stockholder lawsuits claiming their interests are not being served. He presents the basic concepts of sustainability, how it can be measured and benchmarked and how it can make good business sense, and he offers a tool kit for transforming an organization into one that creates sustainable value for shareholders and stakeholders. Although this book is clearly an infomercial for Laszlo's consulting activities, it offers an important roadmap for gaining marketplace advantage or "doing well by doing good." Mary Whaley
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