Cancelling Capitalism? By Wharton legal studies & business ethics professor Christina Skinner, in the Notre Dame Law Review 97(1), 417-440
Sifted’s Summer Reads of 2020 (focused on tech, innovation, and entrepreneurship)
Alastair James (former Consulting Partner at Deloitte)
Jane Fuller (co-Director of Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation and former FT Lex columnist)
Ben Yeoh (Senior Portfolio Manager of RBC)
Stephen Page (Head of Governance, Nasdaq Centre for Corporate Governance)
Juan Carlos Cubeiro Villar (President of “About My Brain Institute”). In Spanish, from his blog ‘Hablemos de Talento’
Universidad Adolfo Ibañez. In Spanish
Option Finance. In French
Hijauku. In Indonesian
BrandInside. In Thai
I do not know whether capitalism is in crisis. But I do know Alex Edmans’ superb book makes the case, compellingly and comprehensively, for a radical rethink of how companies operate and indeed why they exist. It is the definitive account of the analytical case for responsible business, but is at the same time practical and grounded in real business experience. It is a tour de force.Andy Haldane, Chief Economist, Bank of England
Politicians are calling for large companies to be regulated or split up. In this compelling book Alex Edmans argues that there is indeed a problem with corporate behavior but that the solution may be simpler: change corporate purpose so that companies focus on growing the pie rather than grabbing more of it. Edmans’s arguments are a powerful and persuasive antidote to much of the conventional wisdom about the corporate world.Oliver Hart, 2016 Nobel Laureate in Economics
This is a brilliant and timely book, taking the business case for responsible capitalism to a whole new level. Edmans provides a rigorous, evidence-based approach, exploring numerous angles around how businesses can (and, as he shows, must) combine profit-seeking with purpose as well as the role investors and other stakeholders can play in driving a genuine win-win approach. He tackles counter-arguments head-on and has the courage to expose examples of virtue-signalling that falsely discredit responsible businesses. Citing case studies collated over decades, it’s a great read, too, offering fascinating examples well beyond the usual suspects. Grow the Pie really has the power to convince the sceptics as well as encourage advocates consider new ways to embed the approach further in their businesses.Dame Helena Morrissey, financier and founder of the 30% Club
This is a must-read book for anyone interested in reforming capitalism – particularly in its role of serving wider society. The book is grounded in academic evidence, but the ideas are highly practical, and recognize the need for business to be profitable as well as purposeful. Most companies have inspiring mission statements; Edmans provides a concrete framework for translating them into actual practice. He does not shy away from acknowledging the challenges with running a purpose-driven company – balancing multiple objectives, achieving investor buy-in, and making decisions where the key criteria cannot be quantified. Instead, he tackles them head-on, giving clear guidelines on how to navigate tough decisions, which he illustrates with powerful examples.Dominic Barton, former Global Managing Partner of McKinsey
If you’re interested in maximising the good business can do for society, you should read this book. It’s a thoroughly good read.”Liv Garfield, CEO, Severn Trent
As someone who believes passionately in the power of business to contribute powerfully to the broader well-being of society, I’d thoroughly recommend this important, timely and evidence-rich book. For me, three things jump out from its pages: healthy businesses help to make healthy societies; business and society should see each other as partners, not adversaries; and it is an act of enlightened self-interest for business to be driven by its long-term social purpose, not short term profit maximisation.
This is an original and important book that will help transform how business sees itself – and how we see business. Alex Edmans in his passionate advocacy of “Pieconomics” challenges us all to adopt a mindset and unity of purpose in which all business actions contribute to pie growing. The implications are radical and far-reaching. Read it: it will challenge how you think.Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College, Oxford and Observer columnist
In Grow the Pie, Alex Edmans has provided us with a valuable contribution to contemporary thinking about how business can be a force for good in society. I have long advocated seeing the mutuality of interests between business, the workforce, suppliers, communities, the government, and other stakeholders, and Alex employs a solid evidence base to back up this belief so many of us intuitively share: that generating social value is good business.Sir James G M Wates, Chairman of Wates Group
His thought-provoking, often contrarian, ideas are rigorously logical, delving beneath the superficial analyses we often see, which assume correlation implies causation. And Alex’s engaging storytelling brings the principles of ‘pieconomics’ to life with examples of prominent business people – not just those who understand the benefits of growing the pie – but also those who don’t.
I’m pleased to see this impressive piece of work come out at a time when we in the business world need to raise our game in building trust with stakeholders. This means not just arguing for the benefits of business for society, but in actually delivering on those benefits. It means an underlying shift in attitude away from ‘us versus them’, towards mutual efforts to grow and share the pie of business value.
Alex Edmans has done a great service to society by showing that business doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game if we focus more on growing the pie rather than maximizing our slice of it. This is capitalism with a human face.Andrew Lo, Professor of Finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management
Just as Freakonomics encouraged readers to look beyond the conventional wisdom that underlies many public policies, now Professor Alex Edmans introduces the concept of Pieconomics. In Grow the Pie, he challenges popular rhetoric that the free enterprise system is broadly detracting from society. Instead, through many and varied examples, he offers an alternate lens through which we can interpret what constitutes responsible business. In this thoroughly readable book, Edmans debunks mythologies about corporate behavior and offers a new vocabulary by which we can have principled discussions about the role of business in society. A “must read” for leaders in government, business and the media that reports on both.Paula Rosput Reynolds, Director of GE, BP, and BAE
Capitalism is the best model for generating income and wealth for society but is clearly under great strain. The model is far too complex for any silver bullet remediation but the need is urgent for demonstrable improvement on a wide array of fronts. Contemporary discussion tends to focus on the exercise of power by investors, boards and executives, often involving confrontation and dispute. But while strong decisions will often be required and critically important to the success of a business, the overarching need is for the embedding of pervasive influence geared to the purpose of promoting long -term sustainable growth. A fundamental ingredient is the way in which shareholders discharge the obligations that inexorably go alongside their privilege and rights as owners.Sir David Walker, former Chairman of Barclays and Morgan Stanley International, author of the Walker Review
This book is a must-read for asset owners, fund managers and for the boards and executives who lead business enterprise. It provides evidence-based analysis and guidance on how the influence of well-designed stewardship can yield benefit in terms of both financial returns for savers and investors and returns for all stakeholders in a way that benefits society as a whole.
Alex Edmans has produced rigorous evidence that the choice between people and profits is a false dichotomy. Now he makes his work accessible to a broader audience and explains how it’s possible to overcome the tradeoffs that hold so many leaders and companies back.Adam Grant, author of Originals and Give and Take and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
This uplifting book provides powerful examples, as well as evidence, that socially responsible businesses generate even higher long term profits than corporations focused on short term profit maximisation. Value is created particularly in new economy enterprises by employee purpose, creation of brand and reputation which drives customer preference. The findings reflects my own real world experiences of striving for business excellence across the global LifeSciences industry.David Pyott, former Chairman and CEO of Allergan
Finance Professor Alex Edmans defines his purpose in life as ‘to use rigorous research to influence the practice of business.’ This book, Growing the Pie, demonstrates his manifest success in fulfilling that purpose. Edmans mobilizes evidence – not anecdotes – to make a case, both accessible and compelling, for policies and practices that increase the value available for all stakeholders versus simply and simplistically maximizing profit. Edmans’ critical contribution is to reframe arguments about business and capitalism from an all too prevalent short-term zero-sum game to collaborative games where, over time, all can benefit.Bill Janeway, Warburg Pincus
Alex Edmans provides robust evidence against the claim that businesses must choose between shareholder value and social responsibility. Although there are trade-offs, there is no single trade-off. What is good for shareholders can be good for society: evidence matters.Baroness Onora O’Neill, University of Cambridge
An important, thoughtful, and timely book. The conflicts surrounding business, and its effects on society, are the subject of a heated debate. With clarity and insight, Alex Edmans makes a valuable contribution to this key debate. Anyone interested in this important subject would find much to learn from, or wrestle with, in this book.Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School