Shapeholders: Business Success in the Age of Activism

Mark R. Kennedy. Columbia Business School, $29.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-231-18056-6
Business success is not just about the money anymore, says Kennedy, a former congressman and the president of the University of North Dakota, in this energetic guide to winning in the court of public opinion. Twenty years ago, he writes, business leaders only had to worry about shareholders, but in the more political current climate, there is a new group of influencers not financially beholden to the companies they seek to change. These titular “shapeholders”—activists, media outlets, politicians, and regulators—have been challenging companies to be more ecologically friendly, politically aware, and socially active. Thus, successful businesses must address a whole spectrum of voices, from the stakeholders who provide the capital and expect a return, to the shapeholders who provide the direction and expect a resulting change in behavior. In Kennedy’s view, Whole Foods has done it right, as has Google. He addresses managing the media, building credibility, working productively with politicians, and understanding regulators. It’s not easy, Kennedy cautions; you’ll need to stay on your toes, and stay connected. This is an easy, well-organized read, if a bit padded; it’s a thought-provoking, if not groundbreaking, way to frame the new responsibilities of the business world. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/27/2017
Release date: 05/01/2017
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-231-54278-4
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