Lessons We Can Learn From Resilient Businesses: BandyWorks

Any successful investor in the stock market knows that weathering the ups and downs of Wall Street requires a diverse stock portfolio to create long-term viability.

As with the stock market, diversification in business– more specifically, establishing a diverse external network – is a critical factor in building resilience. No company is an island, and smart organizations weave a web of partners with whom they can collaborate to accomplish objectives and overcome obstacles.

Whether facing regulation changes, financial constraints or environmental influences, businesses that develop strong networks at the local, regional, national and global levels will be better positioned for success. This is a concept that Virginia-based company BandyWorks fully understands and embraces.

This spring, the Darden School Institute for Business in Society hosted the 2015 Business and Economic Resilience Conference to learn from Virginia companies that have demonstrated resilience successfully and to share these lessons with other local businesses. During the conference, BandyWorks CEO Tom Bandy participated in a panel discussion to share his experience and expertise in building a resilient business.

BandyWorks

Our team is serious about giving back to the community and becoming involved in different organizations and causes. We work with local chambers of commerce, colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations.” — Tom Bandy, CEO, BandyWorks

Tom Bandy Closeup

BandyWorks CEO Tom Bandy was a panelist at the 2015 Business & Economic Resilience Conference held at the Darden School of Business

Petersburg-based BandyWorks provides business intelligence technology to high-growth companies that operate in multiple locations. By analyzing existing data sources to create reports, dashboards and alerts, they enable business owners and managers to achieve high performance while reducing the stress of overwhelming data. BandyWorks utilized the best of its solutions to create its new ‘Quick Data’ product to facilitate companies’ ability to manage key performance indicators.

Despite the rapid pace of change and innovation required to stay competitive in this quickly evolving industry, BandyWorks is located in and continues to prioritize community leadership in the Petersburg region. Company staff and owners are actively involved in local chamber of commerce, university and other nonprofit organizations that help to promote individual job skill creation, as well as economic vitality.

Chair-elect for the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, CEO Tom Bandy also heads the chamber’s Economic Vitality group responsible for encouraging more businesses and visitors to come to Old Towne Petersburg. They work closely with Petersburg administrators to promote local events and raise the area’s profile through social media, and are currently establishing a small-business seed fund to encourage new businesses to launch in Petersburg.

Faculty Insight by Professor Gregory Fairchild

In one sense, BandyWorks is a firm that epitomizes the trend toward globalization. Utilizing staff on two continents, Tom Bandy and his team of software developers create customized solutions for businesses. At the same time, the firm has its roots in the local environment.

Greg Cropped

Professor Greg Fairchild leads a discussion at the 2015 Business & Economic Resilience Conference

Bandy, who has chosen to base his global firm in a transitioning area in the historic center of Petersburg, recognizes that connections with a broad base of institutions — local, regional, national and global — is critical. The firm builds support and engagement through a diverse set of networks. A second element is accountability. The products BandyWorks develops assist their clients in accurately capturing their progress on critical goals and milestones. BandyWorks cascades this accountability mindset into all that its employees do as a team — personally, professionally and institutionally. Broad networks provide the firm with diversification that can help smooth ups and downs of the market. Strong relations and accountability provide a “glue” that holds things together.

Greg Fairchild is the E. Thayer Bigelow Associate Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and academic director of Darden’s Institute for Business in Society. His research focuses on studying business models and public policy issues in the field of community development finance. His work has been cited by many, including Inc. Magazine, The Economist, National Public Radio (NPR), USA Today, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

To learn more about business resilience, read the full report, Ideas to Action Special Edition: Business and Economic Resilience; What Virginia Businesses Can Teach Us.

 

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Lessons We Can Learn From Resilient Businesses: Blue Crab Bay Co.

How can companies not just survive, but thrive, learn and grow in the face of extreme hardship? By exploring this question, we reveal several key factors of building business resilience.

This spring, the Darden School Institute for Business in Society hosted the 2015 Business and Economic Resilience Conference to learn from Virginia companies that have demonstrated resilience successfully and to share these lessons with other local businesses.

The Blue Crab Bay Co., a certified women’s small business based in Melfa, Virginia, is an example of a company that has been very successful in building resilience. As the Blue Crab Bay Co. demonstrates, adversity is viewed as an opportunity and the local community becomes an extension of the company – two critical components of creating a resilient business.

Blue Crab Bay Co.

Never give up. Never give up. I have had so many times when I should’ve given up, but if somebody tells me I can’t do it I’m going to do it.” — Pamela Barefoot, Founder, Blue Crab Bay Co.

Megan Hess speaking

Professor Megan Hess leads a discussion at the 2015 Business & Economic Resilience Conference

For 30 years, the Blue Crab Bay Co. has safely navigated the perils facing small businesses on the Eastern Shore. The internationally recognized specialty foods producer has come back from a fire, weathered a recession and successfully reached beyond what some might view as an isolated location to a larger market seeking their high-quality specialty foods and Blue Crab stoneware. Their location is the source and inspiration of many of their products, including clam-juice infused Bloody Mary mix or Bay-seasoned spicy snacks. In addition to the scores of jobs it has kept in the community over many years, it is a beacon for other businesses and a testament to resilience on the Eastern Shore.

CEO Pamela Barefoot started the business on her kitchen table shortly after moving to the Eastern Shore under what she described as dire straits. Hit by the recent economic recession just after expanding their facilities, Blue Crab Bay Co. is still working to rebound by implementing many of the resilience strategies developed over the past three decades. “We know full well what companies in economically challenged areas must go through to survive,” noted Barefoot, and, “I am determined to make it work.”

Faculty Insight by Professor Megan Hess

The Blue Crab Bay Co. story highlights one of the key qualities of a resilient organization – the ability to see opportunity even in adversity. Barefoot’s business is located in a remote, rural location where even basic shipping logistics are a challenge, but she and her employees know that the history and traditions of the Eastern Shore are the secret ingredients that set her products apart in a crowded marketplace. When her business struggled to find qualified workers, she attracted talent by highlighting the lifestyle benefits of working for her company. Barefoot also sees the success of her business and the success of the Eastern Shore as intimately connected. She proudly advertises her products with the Eastern Shore’s tagline “You’ll Love our Nature” and partners with other area businesses on joint marketing and development efforts. Blue Crab Bay’s strategies for coping with adversity not only helped the business survive, but they also made the company stronger, more distinctive and more competitive.

Megan Hess is an assistant professor at Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics at Washington and Lee University. Her research focuses on corporate governance, ethical decision making and leadership, social networks, financial statement fraud and professional skepticism.

To learn more about business resilience, read the full report, Ideas to Action Special Edition: Business and Economic Resilience; What Virginia Businesses Can Teach Us.

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Lessons We Can Learn From Resilient Businesses: Marstel-Day

What does it take for a business to build resilience in today’s complex and ever-changing world?

Since there are multiple factors that contribute to business resilience, it cannot be boiled down to just one characteristic, concept or business strategy. And yet, when we researched resilient organizations, we did observe common themes, shared values and many similar practices among them.

This spring, the Darden School Institute for Business in Society hosted the 2015 Business and Economic Resilience Conference – to learn from Virginia companies that have demonstrated resilience successfully and to share these lessons with other local businesses.

One common characteristic we observed among successful resilient businesses is a shared commitment to enriching their local community. These companies invested heavily in their communities, building deep connections that, in turn, helped them build resilience.

One such organization is Marstel-Day, a woman-owned environmental consulting firm headquartered in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with several offices in other states.

Marstel-Day

Our company faced a difficult choice: to fall back or to persevere ….We decided to lean into the wind and almost doubled our staff when many other employers were downsizing.” — Rebecca Rubin, CEO, Marstel-Day

Mike Lenox Case Study

Professor Mike Lenox leads a case study session with Virginia business owners at the 2015 Business and Economic Resilience Conference held in March at the Darden School.

Acting on a deeply-held commitment to create sustainable solutions, Marstel-Day’s President Rebecca Rubin has made hard choices along the way that have built a strong company culture, deep ties to the local community, and solid growth and financial results.

Innovation has defined the business from the start, with the creation of the Conservation Conveyance authority, which allows the Department of Defense to transfer land to public and private conservation groups for permanent protection. Five years after Marstel-Day developed this system and saw it signed into law, nearly a quarter of all land shed by the DOD under Base Realignment and Closure was conveyed for conservation using this authority. Marstel-Day is also the only company that is certified to the Platinum level by the National Standards Foundation as a sustainable service provider.

Marstel-Day’s main office location is in a federally designated Historically Underutilized Business Zone or HUBZone, defined as an area of high unemployment and low income. “The program requires that we locate our principal office inside a HUBZone census tract, and that at least 35 percent of our employees must reside in qualifying HUBZone census tracts as well,” Rubin said. “We’ve gone beyond that — we have seven HUBZone office locations, including Fredericksburg and Richmond, Virginia, and 40 percent of our workforce resides inside qualifying HUBZone census areas — including the majority of the firm’s business partners.”

It has not been easy, Rubin said, but it’s the right thing to do. “It’s significant from a community resilience standpoint that when our people go out into the economy and spend their paychecks, that most of that money is going to be spent locally, in areas that need it,” she said.

Faculty Insight by Professor Mike Lenox

Marstel-Day illustrates that thriving businesses are ones that marry strong values with a powerful mission. Its people are helping their clients make progress on some of the most vexing sustainability challenges while simultaneously living the company’s mission and values in its internal operations. By locating and employing staff from underutilized communities, the organization builds deep connections that provide resilience in the face of ever evolving business conditions. Marstel-Day is enriching its local community and the world.

 Mike Lenox is the Samuel L. Slover Professor of Business and serves as associate dean and academic director of Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. His research expertise is centered on technology strategy and policy and has been cited in The New York Times, Financial Times, The Economist, the Dow Jones Newswire and the Associated Press.

To learn more about business resilience, read the full report, Ideas to Action Special Edition: Business and Economic Resilience; What Virginia Businesses Can Teach Us.

 

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Lessons We Can Learn From Resilient Businesses: Todos Supermarket

Resilience. Defined as “the act of springing back, or rebounding; the power or ability to recover quickly from a setback or other adversity; buoyancy; elasticity.”

In today’s global economy — in which policies and regulation, the financial landscape, the environment and so many other factors can drastically affect the operations and success of a business — organizations must be resilient in order to survive.

But what makes some businesses more resilient than others? And what are some successful traits and lessons shared by resilient companies, from which other organizations can draw?

This spring, the Darden School Institute for Business in Society hosted the 2015 Business and Economic Resilience Conference to explore these issues and to learn from Virginia businesses that have demonstrated resilience successfully. One such company is Todos Supermarket, a retail organization with stores in Woodbridge and Dumfries, Virginia.

Todos Supermarket   

“We became a center for information for our community, not only for groceries, and that gave us the strength to grow along with the community. We no longer cater only to the Latino community, but have expanded to become an entire neighborhood store in both locations.” — Carlos A. Castro, President, Todos Supermarket

As a grocer focused on providing foods that meet the needs of a primarily Hispanic customer base, the employees of Todos Supermarket found themselves in the midst of political unrest directed at its customers. In an area marked by Latino immigration, which has sparked a growing and often heated debate over the past decade, the Todos Supermarket leadership decided to stand up for its customers and community by getting involved in local civic activity. Todos employees actively participated in the debate about the Prince William County “Rule of Law” illegal immigration resolution and the 2008 directive that changed it.

This extended community debate was followed by the global economic downturn, which Todos Supermarket weathered well as they opened up a new 50,000 square-foot location, bolstered by the strong community support they had developed. “My constant and sincere participation brought us not only customer loyalty, but also employee support,” commented Carlos A. Castro, President of Todos Supermarket.

As part of their ongoing community outreach efforts, Todos Supermarket hosts adult education classes, English as a second language training, and also teaches employees to become engaged leaders in the community.

Carlos Castro Closeup at 2015 Bus & Econ Resilience Conference

Carlos A. Castro, President of Todos Supermarket, spoke as a panelist at the 2015 Business and Economic Resilience Conference hosted by the Institute for Business in Society at the UVA Darden School of Business.

Faculty Insight by Morela Hernandez

Todos Supermarket, in many ways, is a steward of the community it serves. Not only is Todos attentive to the dietary preferences of its customer base and in so doing, connect them to their cultural roots, but it also stands as an advocate for the needs and rights of its community stakeholders.

Paying particular attention to issues important to Latin Americans in the U.S., Todos is known for its commitment to development. Take, for example, its philosophy: “At Todos Supermarket, we believe that good people working toward a common goal may accomplish anything they set out to do”; this view represents their basic belief in people’s capacity to adapt, grow and flourish.

Having experienced firsthand the challenges of being an immigrant, with little to no resources, the founder Carlos Castro personifies this philosophy. For Todos, being a steward to the needs and interests of the community in which it exists encompasses not only a goal to provide great quality and service to its customers, but also thoughtfulness and effort toward its stakeholders’ struggles and accomplishments.

Morela Hernandez is an associate professor in the leadership and organizational Behavior area at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Her research is centered on ethical leadership and how cultural, racial and gender diversity impacts organizational decision-making.

To learn more about business resilience, read the full report, Ideas to Action Special Edition: Business and Economic Resilience; What Virginia Businesses Can Teach Us.

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Darden 2015 Business in Society Conference Highlights Public-Private Partnerships

The Darden School’s Business in Society Conference is an annual event that brings together a diverse audience of students, community members and business leaders to discuss the role of business in providing lasting value in an increasingly complex global society. This year’s conference theme is Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), and we will explore how these initiatives are enhancing business relationships and improving communities worldwide.

Darden is pleased to welcome Andrew O’Brien, Special Representative for Global Partnerships in the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, as the event’s keynote speaker. Additional conference sessions will address social impact bonds, the role of the international non-governmental organization (NGO), and PPPs as an opportunity to build the nation’s resiliency.

This event is organized and sponsored by the Net Impact Club, Emerging Markets Development Club, Energy Club, Education Club, Business & Public Policy Club, Healthcare Club, as well as Darden’s Institute for Business in Society and University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. For questions about the event, please contact Niti Kalra (KalraN15@darden.virginia.edu).

Register HERE for this free event! The full agenda and session details can be viewed below.

BiS Conference Flyer 2015

 

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2015 Business and Economic Resilience Conference

2015 Business and Economic Resilience Conference
RESCHEDULED TO THIS FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2015
A day of education, problem-solving, networking and inspiration for small businesses

March 13, 2015
9am – 4pm
UVA Darden School of Business 

What makes some businesses able to overcome adversity better than others? And what sets resilient businesses apart – so they can not only survive, but thrive, after experiencing business challenges?

Join us and other business owners and leaders from around the Commonwealth as we explore these and other important lessons at the 2015 Business and Economic Resilience Conference. Learn from resilient Virginia businesses with proven track records of success, a distinguished group of faculty from the UVA Darden School and Washington & Lee University, as well as Congressman Robert Hurt, Representative for Virginia’s 5th District, who will discuss how government can be streamlined to encourage business and job growth.

While there is no charge to attend this conference, registration is required. Please use this link to RSVP.

We invite you to extend additional invitations to other colleagues or stakeholders who may benefit from these discussions.

todos

Todos Supermarket

We hope you can join us for an invigorating day of interactive discussions, business education, problem-solving, shared best practices and valuable networking opportunities (see detailed agenda here: Agenda_2015 Business and Economic Resilience Conference). This event promises to be an energizing forum filled with helpful information that organizational leaders can implement immediately and use to build resilience within their own businesses.

 

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Guest Post: Business Lessons from Behind Bars

Academic Director Gregory Fairchild recently presented a TEDxCharlottesville talk – The Questions that Got Me Into Prison.

Below is a related guest blog post from Tom Bandy, CEO of BandyWorks, winner of the 2010 University of Virginia Darden School Institute for Business in Society’s Tayloe Murphy Resilience Award. Bandy drew inspiration for this blog post by participating in leading a class session in the Dillwyn Correctional Center with Professor Fairchild.
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Standing in the Sally port waiting to enter Dillwyn Correctional Institute on a clear spring afternoon, a cold reality of prison life encloses each instructor. The course they are about to lead is an experiment to prepare inmates for successful re-entry to society. Can convicted felons operate a successful business after they complete their sentence?

Mistakes and second chances

Mistakes are bad choices, actions or results. A good business plan will measure results, assess them and apply modifications to try to make things better. Hence a good plan assumes mistakes will happen and new methods be found to address them. Mistakes happen and learning results. Lessons learned create value when applied. Hence, mistakes create improvements when learning is applied.

Discussing Darden School ‘cases’ inside a prison provides a unique educational perspective. The intensity and reality of consequences and the importance of the learning are compelling. The outcome of this course literally means the difference of a free life or a return to prison. Here are a few lessons that have been learned by the inmates, this instructor argues they apply to all businesses:

#1 – Judging is not as important as learning

Every felon attending the course is a real person with real dreams and disappointments. Many people will privately discuss egregious mistakes that have been made by themselves, friends or other family members. Not many people live into their adult lives without having made serious mistakes in judgment, action or inaction. While not everyone has the same level of mistakes and associated consequences, it seems fair to think past mistakes do not define the totality of one’s character and value.

In business, those leaders that take on problems and find a way to fix or better resolve situations are deemed successful. It seems only fair that once the cost of a mistake has been addressed, then looking forward with a new understanding may be considered a success as well. While the assumption of felons repaying the costs of a mistake is challenging, the justification corresponds to normal business practice. These felons have been judged by the courts and are paying a debt via their prison sentence. How many successful businesses have been created without overcoming a lot of mistakes?

#2 – Second chances must be both earned and provided

While blind faith that convicted felons will not repeat their past mistakes is not a practical approach, there are huge economic reasons to want felons to return to society. There must be additional rules and checks in place until trust has been established. Who better than someone that has given up years of freedom to understand the value of a second chance? Those genuinely desirous of a fresh start are willing to earn trust and pay their dues. Herein lays the opportunity to apply business lessons to the approach to return of felons to society.

Great businesses provide clear responsibilities, process and accountability. Great leaders do not describe the explicit definition of rules, responsibilities and goals as extra work but rather necessary work. These same companies do not fire someone for a single mistake, but carefully hold them accountable for mistakes with a sincere expectation for the proper behavior to be delivered going forward. Perhaps, with time and experience, a set of reasonable rules can be applied that balance cost of second chances for felons.

#3 – What goes around comes around

The obvious point here is that felons made bad choices and incarceration resulted. Another point, though less obvious, is that second chances are valuable for both the giver and the recipient. Offering someone that has failed badly a chance to earn respect and honor from their own effort is an enormous gift. The interesting point of those involved with the prison program, however, is that the instructors often discuss how much they receive rather than how much they have given.

This lesson also applies directly to business. Applying accountability with a staff member demonstrates that their work is important and provides the encouragement of high expectations. Tracking results and teaching the lessons of mistakes leads to staff ownership and productivity – a gift that will return many times to an owner.

#4 – Prioritize well and choose accordingly

Prison accountability is much more severe than that of its business counterpart. Small business people face challenges of time with their family, for themselves and face intense financial risks. Inmates lose access to their family almost entirely, cannot support them and face intense humiliation. The cost of their choices is severe and long lasting. The value of priorities and discipline is illuminated when the harsh consequences of bad priorities and lack of discipline are encountered in a prison.

Such a ‘case’ makes a great lesson for any entrepreneur. Choices have consequences and actions must be prioritized to use those that yield the best results. Every business has more tasks than time. The need to make the right choices and use time well is an important key to success. There is an intense pressure to execute at a high level. Such pressure can lead to fatigue, bad choices and over-analysis. The inevitability of mistakes and the ability to learn and earn a second chance paradoxically frees one to move forward with less stress and more confidence. Do your best, learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself and go make things better.

As the last sally port gate opens the instructors pick up their phones and keys and head home in the now cold dark night. The emails, voice message and texts have queued up during the class. While the answer to second chances for felons is yet to be known, at least one instructor knows that he has learned lessons and will use his second chance tomorrow to apply those lessons to his reset priorities.

This post originally appeared as Accountability Lessons from Prison at http://bandyworks.com/accountability-lessons-from-prison/

 

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Spent Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion on Financial Service Inclusion

Guest Post By Lauren Lehman, U.Va. Class of 2015

The Institute for Business in Society (IBiS) and the Net Impact club at Darden are co-hosting a screening of the documentary Spent: Looking for Change at 6pm on November 9 at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, as part of the Virginia Film Festival. The event consists of viewing the 40-minute documentary and a panel to discuss problems and possible solutions articulated in the film.

The documentary addresses the need to expand financial inclusion throughout the country by finding new, alternative methods to manage money more affordably. Many Americans do not have access to the financial tools utilized by many and instead rely on institutions such as pawn shops and payday loans, which become extremely costly due to high interest rates and fees. “It is important to engage in a dialogue around this growing problem in order to inspire action and change of the current system,” commented Lisa Stewart, Director of the Institute for Business in Society. The film suggests possible solutions by highlighting the need for education and the development of new technologies to meet the needs of the financially underserved.

Following Sunday night’s screening, an expert panel will explore alternatives to better address the concerns raised in the film. The panel will be moderated by Darden faculty member Professor R. Edward Freeman, and panelists include Sohrab Kohli, special projects associate, Innovation Labs, Center for Financial Innovation, R. Jerry Nemorin, founder & CEO of Lend Street Financial, Inc., and Wesley Wright, senior vice president, Enterprise Growth, American Express. A podcast version of the panel conversation will be released following the event.

Fairchild

Panelists at the U.S. Department of Treasury discuss the lack of financial tools accessible to some Americans. Treasury Photo by Chris E. Taylor.

Spent: Looking for Change was also screened at the U.S. Department of Treasury on September 19, and the Department held a panel to facilitate discussion and brainstorm solutions of this issue on a broader, national level. Professor Greg Fairchild participated on that panel, which has been archived and can be viewed online here.

To follow or join the conversation on Twitter, use the hashtags #Spent and #LookingForChange. For additional infomation, read the press release here.

 

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Guest Post: Scandinavia and US Business: Is Mutual Imitation a Good Idea?

By Robert Strand

I am an American and I began my career as an industrial engineer with IBM in the U.S., but I have spent the better part of the past decade in Scandinavia studying that region’s approach to sustainability and corporate social responsibility – first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a Ph.D. student, and finally as a business school professor.

I was drawn to Scandinavia by that region’s remarkable balance of strong economic, environmental, and social performances. I wanted to understand what role business had in this.

As I once again take up residency in the U.S., now as Executive Director of the Berkeley-Haas Center for Responsible Business, I am struck by how these two very different business cultures are absorbing each other’s ideas.

For the United States, this is clearly a good thing. For Scandinavia, I am not so sure.
On this side of the Atlantic, business priorities have traditionally been dominated by a hyper-competitive drive to dominate, trumpet success, and maximize profits. On the other side, we have what I call the “Scandinavian Cooperative Advantage” — a quiet but pervasive commitment to shared social and environmental values. Business in Scandinavia is grounded on cooperation between stakeholders and on a conviction that corporations have obligations to deliver more than shareholder returns.

The US and Scandinavia also differ on “talking the talk” versus “walking the walk.” American companies instinctively trumpet any good deeds, and the phrase “corporate social responsibility” found an early home in the United States. But Scandinavian corporations have been decades ahead when it came to actually practicing what we now call “CSR.”

It was a Scandinavian scholar, Eric Rhenman, who first formally defined the term “stakeholder” in management literature nearly a half-century ago to crystallize what Scandinavian companies were already doing: engaging with employees, customers and the broader community, and taking their interests into consideration. Today, Scandinavian business is at the top of international performance rankings on social responsibility and sustainability.

Yet now we are at a curious twist in the story. Michael Porter of Harvard, arguably the world’s most influential strategic management scholar and the man who has effectively taught millions of students that business is war, has become the champion of “creating shared value.” He now warns that American companies will jeopardize their own futures if they don’t embrace their broader responsibilities to all stakeholders.

“Businesses cannot thrive for long while their communities languish,” wrote Porter and Jan Rivkin in a new report entitled “An Economy Doing Half Its Job.” “(I)n the long run, American business will suffer from an inadequate workforce, a population of depleted consumers, and large blocs of anti-business voters.”

Sounds almost Scandinavian, doesn’t it? And in truth, as I have documented at some length with Professor Ed Freeman of Darden School of Business, “creating shared value” is essentially a repackaging of Eric Rhenman’s Scandinavian-based view that the firm exists to serve  its stakeholders. Said another way, corporations exist to serve the needs of society, not the other way around. Moreover, given the needs of society represent business opportunities, corporations are far more successful when the people within them embrace this ideal.

To the extent that Michael Porter accelerates this long-overdue conversation, the United States will be better off.
Meanwhile, Scandinavians are absorbing American-based ideas. In a major trend, Scandinavian governments have increasingly adopted an increasingly laissez-faire approach to social challenges. It might not seem like unfettered free-enterprise to American eyes, but Sweden, Denmark and other Nordic nations are slowly moving away from direct government regulation by encouraging more corporate social responsibility. In effect, they are shifting from official and public channels to private and more market-based channels to address complex social challenges. It is a form of de-regulation.

In parallel, Scandinavians are increasingly using imported American business jargon like “Corporate Social Responsibility” and more recently “Creating Shared Value.”

This isn’t just a matter of words. Traditionally, Scandinavian companies simply engaged in corporate social responsibility without attaching a special name to it. Scandinavians tend to frown on grand-standing about good deeds as humility is a cherished quality in the Scandinavian context. Most companies practiced “implicit CSR” without explicitly calling it “CSR” because Scandinavians assumed that social responsibility was a normal part of business. Why would a corporation and its employees NOT be responsible to their stakeholders?

Unfortunately, I am not sure this Americanization of Scandinavia is a good thing. There is already some concern in Scandinavia about popular resentment – both about importing American jargon and about corporate grand-standing – as this is fundamentally not Scandinavian. My deeper concern is that the Scandinavian business will become fixated on achieving a “competitive advantage” without realizing that their true advantage lies in their ability to cooperate. This cooperation benefits Scandinavian corporations and their stakeholders – it is “shared value,” as Porter now calls it.

Scandinavia has a “cooperative advantage,” and I hope they don’t lose it.

Fortunately, we can prevent that from happening by encouraging these important conversations on both sides. Americans should question the traditional narrative that business is fundamentally about competition, and they should recognize the lessons from Scandinavia about combining strong economic performance with strong social responsibility and environmental sustainability.

And Scandinavians? They should recognize what a special thing they have and not discard it in a dash to become more American.

Learn more in: Strand, R., Freeman, R.E. & Hockerts, K. (2015). “Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability in Scandinavia.” Journal of Business Ethics. 127.1

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Robert Strand is Executive Director of the Center for Responsible Business at the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business. Follow him on Twitter @robertgstrand.

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P3 Impact Award Finalists Announced

The Institute for Business in Society, Concordia, and the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships are thrilled to announce the finalists for the P3 Impact Award! We look forward to announcing the winner at this year’s Concordia Summit on September 29th in New York City.

The P3 Impact Award was created to recognize public-private partnerships (P3s) that are improving communities and the world in the most impactful ways. The award seeks to highlight best practices and actionable insights in the P3 arena.

2014 P3 Impact Award Finalists:


African Diaspora Marketplace

african-diaspora_logo

P3 Impact Award Finalist

Today, more than 62 million Americans – a full fifth of the nation – are either first or second generation diasporas. Diasporans play a critical role in contributing to their countries of origin by sending remittances to family and friends. However, diasporans have the potential to contribute even more substantially to a country of origin’s well-being through entrepreneurship and investment. Recognizing the important role that diasporans play as powerful actors in foreign assistance, the U.S. Agency for international Development (USAID), Western Union, and Western Union Foundation partnered to launch the African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM). Originally started as a business plan competition, ADM now offers a comprehensive package of services including: seed capital, technical assistance, market linkages, and access to finance. ADM is now in its third iteration and has served as a model for similar programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 2009, the partnership has assisted 34 diaspora ventures with $2.25 million in seed capital. ADM has become a catalyst to attract nearly $2 million in additional equity capital to help grow these diaspora ventures to the next level of scale and impact.


CocoaLink: Connecting Cocoa Communities

internetCocoaLink logo

P3 Impact Award Finalist

Cocoa villages in West Africa are often isolated and it is difficult for farmers to access information on good agricultural practices. To address this issue The Hershey Company, the Ghana Cocoa Board, and the World Cocoa Foundation partnered to launch CocoaLink. CocoaLink connects cocoa farmers to government agriculture experts and the latest information on modern farming techniques through a two-way mobile phone exchange. Farmers use text and voice messages to receive information and ask questions about farming conditions and practices. The widespread use of mobile phones makes CocoaLink an economical and easy-to-use platform. To date, there are more than 45,000 registered CocoaLink users in 1,800 communities. Compared to non-CocoaLink farmers, on average, CocoaLink users experience a 45% yield improvement and a 70% income increase. Partners will use insights from the Ghana CocoaLink program to extend the program to other cocoa-growing countries in West Africa.


Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

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P3 Impact Award Finalist

Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires – the primary means of cooking and heating for nearly three billion people in the developing world – causes 4.3 million premature deaths every year, with women and young children the most affected. This issue called Household Air Pollution is now the 4th biggest health risk in the world. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (Alliance) and its 1,000 partners in the business, civil society, NGO, philanthropic, United Nations, and humanitarian sectors, along with 45 national governments, are working globally to address the devastating health, environmental, gender, and climate effects associated with the use of unsafe cookstoves and reliance on biomass fuels by building a thriving and sustainable market of clean cooking solutions. In just three years, this innovative partnership has successfully helped to spur the growth of 1.6 million clean and efficient stoves in the market to 8.4 million stoves, a crucial milestone in the Alliance’s goal to enable 100 million households to adopt clean cookstove and fuels by 2020.


The Coca-Cola Company & World Wildlife Fund Global Freshwater Partnership

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P3 Impact Award Finalist

While water covers 70 percent of the planet, less than 1 percent of the world’s fresh water is accessible for people and nature. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages, jeopardizing the health of ecosystems around the globe. Because water is essential to nature, communities, and business, the World Wildlife Fund and The Coca-Cola Company launched a transformational partnership in 2007 to help protect and conserve the world’s freshwater resources. The partnership focuses on measurably improving environmental performance across the Company’s value chain, and also works to ensure healthy, resilient freshwater basins in 11 key regions. Since 2004, the Coca-Cola system has improved water efficiency by 21.4 percent and has reduced emissions by 6 percent. The partnership has also seen major conservation gains in river basins around the world, including helping to establish a freshwater reserve in East Africa and a new policy statute in Vietnam.


Wireless Access for Health Initiative

WAH Logo

P3 Impact Award Finalist

While responsible for managing and delivering healthcare, local government units in the Philippines lack the funding and technical capacity to manage patients. A cumbersome manual system results in lost records and time and compounds already poor health-seeking behavior of patients. A partnership between the Provincial Government of Tarlac and various other stakeholders, including USAID and Qualcomm Incorporated, the Wireless Access for Health Initiative (WAH) is a customizable, open-source electronic health record system. The system enables easy health data validation, patient SMS alerts, mobile modules, a statistics aggregator, and an electronic reporting mechanism. WAH has improved various aspects of the health system in Tarlac, including increased accuracy of health records, 60 percent reduction in wait times, and increased number of preventative visits. WAH is now functioning in 68 clinics in 14 provinces and serves more than 2,500 patients per day.

 

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