Earlier this year, competitiveness guru Michael Porter advanced a big idea in Harvard Business Review that I wrote about here because it was so relevant to discussions on this blog of new approaches to sustainability in coffee. In the article (titled “The Big Idea”), Porter and co-author Mark Kramer articulated the concept of Creating Shared Value (CSV) and made some bold claims about the future of this new approach to blending social and economic value. Among them: that CSV would topple the reigning corporate approach to transparency and social impact, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This week, sustainability sage John Elkington spoke out from the CSR corner and pushed back against CSV.
OK, so maybe it isn’t Ali-Foreman. And maybe trading subtle critiques in the pages of the world’s leading publications isn’t exactly taking the gloves off. But these guys are as big as they come in corporate strategy circles, and their ideas will influence the ways the world’s leading corporations engage with issues of sustainability into the future — decisions that will have real consequences for many millions of poor people around the world.