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The Business of Building a Better World

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The Business of Building a Better World

The Leadership Revolution That Is Changing Everything


15 min read
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What's inside?

This passionately rendered collection of essays sketches socially and environmentally conscious business models for the future.

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In this collection of 17 essays authored by 29 prominent scholars and executives, editors David Cooperrider and Audrey Selian present business leaders with a multi-pronged, urgent call to action. They argue passionately that business contributed to the existential crises facing the planet, and it must be part of the solution. Their forward-looking insights push beyond the purely conceptual realm of emerging management theory. They chart a path toward humane, collaborative, sustainable business models that support people and planet – while turning a healthy profit.


Business helped bring humanity to the brink of disaster. It can and must be part of the solution.

The survival of the species depends on decisions made by today’s citizens, governments and businesses. Unfortunately, the global business world continues to feature scant diversity of gender, appearance, age or thought at senior levels. It perpetuates the status quo and rarely benefits society or the planet. Executive suites and boardrooms still mostly feature older, white men who perform social responsibility theater – virtue signaling – while engaging in business practices that degrade people, natural resources and the environment. 

Wealth inequality has only grown more extreme during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite widespread acknowledgment that current ways of doing business can’t continue, even self-identified champions of environmental and social causes, like BlackRock, continue to invest in dirty energy. Fully 181 leaders of the world’s largest firms – members of the Business Roundtable – signed a pledge to pursue stakeholder rather than shareholder capitalism in 2019. But a year later, most had...

About the Authors

David L. Cooperrider, PhD, is a Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve University and holds two chaired professorships at the Weatherhead School of Management: Char and Chuck Fowler Professor of Business as an Agent of World Benefit and the Covia - David L. Cooperrider Professorship in Appreciative Inquiry. Audrey Selian runs Artha Impact, an environmental and socially responsible investing firm. She holds a PhD in Technology Policy and Development Studies from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

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