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The world just changed its axis. Did you feel it?

Last week, 181 of the country’s biggest CEOs — representing 15 million employees and $7 trillion in revenues — came together to refute one of the core principles of business for the last fifty years.

That was Milton Friedman’s 1970 paper, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits. In it, he expanded that title to declare that there was no other responsibility of business than to return profits to its shareholders. Everything else — customers, employees, societal change — must be in service to the shareholders.

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ROBERT REICHRobert Riech is one smart guy, and I deeply respect the fact that he appears to actually understand how the economy works.

So I noticed his recent article titled “The Rebirth of Stakeholder Capitalism“.

He makes a powerful distinction between Shareholder Capitalism and Stakeholder Capitalism.  The former structures a business to benefit only the shareholders, while the latter incorporates other beneficiaries: customers, employees, and communities.

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ASPEN INSTITUTE just came out with a new report entitled Unpacking Corporate Purpose: A Report on the Beliefs of Executives, Investors and Scholars. It’s an interesting read, especially for those who are thinking about how investors change the landscape of their company’s purpose.

Aspen InstituteFor me, the most thought-provoking idea was that there are distinctly different philosophies about the concept of a corporation – and they’re all valid.

You’d think that traditional wisdom holds that the purpose of a corporation is to serve its shareholders.  But is it?  Read the rest of this entry »

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