Value Shift: Why Companies Must Merge Social and Financial Imperatives to Achieve Superior Performance

Lynn Sharp Paine

Hardcover: 288 pages, McGraw-Hill (2002), $19.57

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Value Shift
Why Companies Must Merge Social and Financial Imperatives to Achieve Superior Performance
Lynn Sharp Paine
288 pages (McGraw-Hill, 2002)

Lynn Paine, a professor at Harvard Business School, has penned an engaging book that unravels the complicated issues surrounding business ethics. Much of corporate social responsibility – ranging from treating employees honestly to being charitable to the community – is based on a vague notion that “ethics pays.” Drawing upon history, philosophy, management literature, and case studies, Paine argues that sometimes there is an overlap between ethics and the financial bottom line and sometimes there isn’t. By her calculation, the charitable practices of companies like Timberland fall outside of the overlap and are not sustainable in the long run. Especially in lean years, companies need to think strategically about the costs and benefits of business ethics. Paine presents a model to help people leading corporate responsibility initiatives make thoughtful decisions.

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