The idea that business should create social value, not just shareholder value, is fast becoming the common sense of our time. One could interpret this as a delayed corrective to the crisis in capitalism brought about by the credit crunch. But there was no inevitability about it. Even at the start of the year, when Michael Porter published his Harvard Business Review article on creating shared value, his argument was greeted with scepticism as much as agreement.
Since then, we’ve had the Arab Spring, public disgust with the press brought about by the phone hacking scandal and now the Leveson hearings, riots in England over the summer, the Occupy protests, and the looming threat of financial and social collapse in the euro zone. These events have given voice to public unease with corporate elites who seem out of control and political elites who have no answers to our current predicament.