A critique of Creating Shared Value

Measuring and managing non-financial performance is a cornerstone of the Economics of Mutuality. In order to develop new business models in which mutuality drives superior business performance, it is necessary to understand, quantify and track non-financial forms of "capital," such as social, human, and natural. In doing so, we seek to successfully decipher the patterns that drive shared prosperity to low income communities, among other goals.

Various theories and systems have been put forward recently related to this field, including Michael Porter and Mark Kramer's Creating Shared Value (CSV), a concept they outlined in Harvard Business Review.

CSV has received significant attention since its publication, gaining a wide audience in academic and business circles, but it has also attracted its share of criticism. Rigorous review and testing are essential to learning an progress, and we found this critique of CSV -- published by professors from a number of prominent business schools -- to be worth reading.

We suggest that the concept makes some significant progress towards enhancing attention to the social dimensions of business, and may act as a spur for better practice. However ... CSV also suffers from a number of serious shortcomings that will erode any real possibility for the more fundamental change aimed at by the authors."  

-- from Contesting the Value of "Creating Shared Value"

In it, the authors find CSV has serious shortcomings, namely: it is unoriginal; it ignores the tensions inherent to responsible business activity; it is naive about business compliance; and it is based on a shallow conception of the corporation’s role in society.


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