When Michael Porter and Mark Kramer published ‘Creating shared value‘ in Harvard Business Review in February 2011, the impact was huge. Although much of it was positive (a stellar citation rate; articles in The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian; Davos roundtables; McKinsey’s award for the best HBR article in 2011), many within the sustainability community were less impressed.
John Elkington, executive chair of Volans and the nearest sustainability has to a founding father, took Porter deftly to task for his lack of subtlety. Paul Polman, Unilever CEO and sustainability’s leading light ever since he told short-term speculators to sell their shares in his company, was also unconvinced.
Others decided that the difference between sustainability and shared value was simply semantics. We don’t agree.