cover image Accountable: The Rise of Citizen Capitalism

Accountable: The Rise of Citizen Capitalism

Michael O’Leary and Warren Valdmanis. Harper Business, $29.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-297651-2

Investors O’Leary and Valdmanis debut with a well-informed and idealistic call for a more ethical version of capitalism. The authors identify two competing visions for the American economy—a short-term profit-driven model in which corporations are beholden only to shareholders versus a stakeholder framework in which the concerns of customers, employees, and local communities are taken into account—and contend that the true measure of capitalism is its ability to lift people out of poverty. Distinguishing genuine corporate social responsibility from marketing initiatives, O’Leary and Valdmanis praise pharmacy chain CVS for banishing tobacco products from its stores in 2014—a move that cost the company billions in sales but aligned with its core values as a health-care business. The authors highlight the attempted 2019 takeover of newspaper publisher Gannett by hedge fund Alden Global Capital as an example of the threat unfettered capitalism poses to journalism, and advocate for people to use their votes, labor, and consumer choices to encourage conscientious behavior in corporations. Though the idea that Fortune 500 companies can be nudged to self-regulate will strike many readers as overly optimistic, O’Leary and Valdmanis offer an astute record of American capitalism’s best and worst qualities. Business owners and MBA students will value this helpful guide. Agent: Alice Martell, Martell Agency. (Aug.)