Four Trends Indicating a Pivot to Shared Value

Companies Scaling Solutions to Social Challenges Demonstrate the Power of a Unifying Idea
Mar 29, 2018 10:00 AM ET

When Michael Porter and Mark Kramer published Creating Shared Value in 2011 in the Harvard Business Review, the concept struck an immediate and resonant chord with business leaders globally. Why? Recall that particular moment in time – trust in the private sector was at an all-time low on the heels of the 2008 global financial meltdown and an ever-expanding list of social and environmental issues seemed beyond the reach of governments driven by partisan divides. Ten years later, the narrative sounds familiar with issues like growing inequality, climate change, and access to medicine for underserved populations proving to be challenges that are too big for any one entity to solve alone.

Enter shared value – the idea that companies can help solve social problems at scale through their core business in ways that enhance competitiveness and deliver financial value to shareholders. For some companies who embraced this approach, such as Nestlé or Walmart, shared value wasn’t new, but helped provide a conceptual framework for efforts they had been pursuing for some time. For others, shared value presented an opportunity to fundamentally re-think their company’s engagement with society through their core business, rather than through bolt-on activities.

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