One of the paradoxes of today’s business is that the most profitable businesses in the world are not those which are the most profit-focused. Substantial research has consistently shown that purpose-driven organisations generate far more returns as compared to profit-driven organisations. If any organisation’s leader and its people get the purpose right, profits will follow. This reality runs contradictory to the common understanding of the story of business.
Businesses around the world are undergoing a major shift. After the global financial crisis, boards, business leaders and policy makers recognise that business is a key institution in meeting the challenges of every society, and it will play an increasingly important role in building better societies and making the world a better place.
In short, the story of business is changing. There are many different versions of this new purpose-driven story, from Corporate Social Responsibility to Conscious Capitalism, Shared Value, Just Capital, Patient Capital, Socially Responsible Investing, and others. Some of these ideas are merely bolted onto current business models, while others represent more systematic changes.
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Edward Freeman is University Professor and Olsson Professor of Business Administration; Academic Director of the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics; and an Academic Director of the Institute for Business in Society at the Darden School, University of Virginia. He is also Adjunct Professor of Stakeholder Management at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, Visiting Professor at Nyenrode Business School (Netherlands), Adjunct Professor of Management at Monash University (Melbourne) and Visiting Professor at the International Center for Corporate Social Responsibility at Nottingham University.
Professor Freeman has held honorary appointments as the Welling Professor at George Washington University and the Gourlay Professorship at University of Melbourne. Prior to coming to The Darden School, Professor Freeman taught at University of Minnesota and The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
Professor Freeman is the co-author of Stakeholder Theory: The State of the Art (Cambridge, 2010) and Managing for Stakeholders (Yale, 2007). He is the author or editor of over 20 volumes and 100 articles in the areas of stakeholder management, business strategy and business ethics. Professor Freeman is perhaps best known for his award winning book: Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach (Cambridge, 2010), originally published in 1984, where he traced the origins of the stakeholder idea to a number of others and suggested that businesses build their strategy around their relationships with key stakeholders. He was the editor of the Ruffin Series in Business Ethics (15 volumes) published by Oxford. He is the co-editor with Mette Morsing and Jeremy Moon of the Cambridge Series: Business, Society and Value Creation (11 volumes).
Professor Freeman has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Washington University, and a B.A. in Mathematics and Philosophy from Duke University. He was recently awarded an honorary doctorate (DHC) in economics from Comillas University in Madrid, The Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki and an honorary doctorate in Management Science from Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands for his work on stakeholder theory and business ethics. Throughout his career he has received a number of teaching awards from the Wharton School, The Carlson School, the University of Virginia: Darden School of Business, the State of Virginia and the Academy of Management. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the World Resources Institute and Aspen Institute, the Humboldt University Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Society for Business Ethics. He has worked with many executives and companies around the world.
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