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Corporate Redesign

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Corporations in the Crosshairs

Footloose corporations, obsessed with the bottom line, are fraying the social-ecological fabric. A forum on the struggle to tame and displace these behemoths—and new directions for the struggle.

Featuring opening reflections from Allen White and comments from Duncan Austin, Frank Dixon, Sally Goerner, Dorothy Guerrero, Yogi Hendlin, David Korten, Steve Lydenberg, Michael Marx, Michael Peck, Álvaro de Regil Castilla, Jackie Smith, Sandra Waddock, Alan Willis, and Simon Zadek.

Who Speaks for Future Generations?

At a moment of planetary crises—ecological, social, economic—long-termism is in short supply. Representing the interests of the unborn requires both a new consciousness and new institutional arrangements. In the case of a corporation, a new governance entity in the form of a Futures Council is one such arrangement. The Council would serve as a watchdog and advocate for future generations in matters pertaining to a the organization’s purpose, strategy and policies. For corporations beholden to short-term pressures, intergenerational stewardship must be ingrained at the highest levels of fiduciary and executive decision-making. Anything less will fail to align corporate activity with the vision of a just and thriving planet in the coming decades.

The Fight for a New Economy

It becomes clearer every day that our economy is failing to serve people and planet. Stewart Wallis, former executive director of the New Economics Foundation, describes a new economy and new efforts to galvanize it.

A Moment for Business Statesmanship

The first weeks of the Trump presidency have raised profound anxieties among government leaders and citizens alike. Amidst rising uncertainty, one group that stands to lose the most is global business. Corporate leaders who fail to take a stand in the face of destabilizing actions do a disservice to their reputation, workers communities and shareholders. Will business leaders rise to this urgent occasion?

The Soul of a Great Transition: Social Life Cycle Assessment and the Quest for a Humane Future

Social Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)—the analysis of social impacts spanning the complete value chain of a product or process—has never been more important than it is today for understanding and correcting widespread social injustices. In an increasingly interdependent world, we need to think and analyze systematically. Social LCA helps us expose in systemic fashion the social consequences of the dominant global development paradigm and, in so doing, has a vital role to play in redirecting global change towards a Great Transition future.

Towards a Sustainable University

Countless universities are exploring ways of incorporating sustainability into their curriculum, research, and practice. The Arizona State University experiment described in Designing the New American University has been at the cutting edge. But does it go far enough?

A Higher Calling for Higher Education

Higher education institutions are beset by forces of marketization and internationalization amidst a rapidly changing world. The potential for the university to become a transformative agent, however, still exists—if it can transform itself pedagogically, epistemologically, and politically.

US Investment in Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

In the past decade, investment in land used for agriculture and forestry in low- and middle-income countries has grown dramatically. This study reveals that US investors—mainly private equity and hedge funds—play a substantial role financing agribusiness companies that employ monoculture production in low-income countries at the expense of biodiversity and greater food security. The analysis is based on primary data collected from interviews with investors and fund managers involved in farmland and timberland investments and experts from civil society organizations, as well as a review of secondary and limited primary data on US investors and investment funds engaged in large-scale land acquisitions in low- and middle-income countries. The report also discusses the challenges to gaining access to information and the need for stronger public disclosure requirements.

Worker Cooperatives in a Globalizing World

The former president of Mondragon International discusses how Mondragon, a renowned worker-owned cooperative, puts democracy and solidarity into practice, and shares his insights on the future of global cooperative enterprise.

Debating the Sharing Economy

What is the “sharing economy”? Can it contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future? Juliet Schor answers these questions, arguing that democratizing the ownership of these new platforms will be key to realizing their potential.

Corporations in a Great Transition

The “Corporations in a Great Transition” workshop focused on imagining a new corporate narrative and new corporate forms and communicating such innovations to change the conversation about the role of business in society. It consisted of three sessions: Visions (what corporate futures are desirable to build just and sustainable societies), Models (what types of corporate forms are needed to achieve alternate visions), and Pathways (who the change agents are and how can they be mobilized).

Institutional Pathways to Fossil-Free Investing: Endowment Management in a Warming World

This report provides an analysis of climate-related portfolio risk faced by educational and philanthropic endowments and presents three pathways toward reallocating an endowment portfolio into fossil-free investment opportunities, across asset classes. It includes numerous case studies of institutional asset managers and endowments that have competitively managed portfolios without exposure to fossil fuel company securities.

Public Investment in Private Higher Education: Estimating the Value of Nonprofit College and University Tax Exemptions

Few phenomena embody higher education’s social contract with the public more concretely than annual taxpayer support, through direct payments, grants, and contracts and indirectly through tax incentives, subsidies, and exemptions. This report offers a bottom-up methodology to estimate the public tax expenditure resulting from non-profits colleges and universities’ tax exemption. Its approach employs and expands on methodologies developed through comparable research on hospitals and the nonprofit sector more broadly in order to arrive at a methodology appropriate for estimating the public investment in individual private, non-profit schools Northeastern University provides a demonstration case for developing the underlying estimation techniques, the application of which we present at the federal, state, and local levels.

Total Portfolio Activation: A Framework for Creating Social and Environmental Impact Across Asset Classes

Interest in investment that pursues social and environmental impact has exploded in recent years. Although opportunities for impact investing have emerged across asset classes, most impact-investment activity has remained largely confined to a limited array of private investments. To help fill this gap, this paper introduces a simple conceptual framework for organizations and individuals seeking greater impact and better alignment between their investment activities and their mission or values: Total Portfolio Activation. The basic insight that drives Total Portfolio Activation is that every investment across every asset class has social and environmental impacts—positive and negative. This report further offers concrete steps to help any institutional investor begin working toward a fuller activation of their portfolio in support of their mission.

New Rigorous Ratings Tools Help Investors and Companies

In the absence of a broad-based consensus on the meaning and measurement of sustainability excellence, ratings organizations, whose business it is to evaluate the extent to which a company meets these undefined standards, are left with multiple choices of how to interpret what, exactly, they are rating, and how to do so. The Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings, explained in this article, offers an opportunity for credible corporate performance assessment.

Originally published in Ethical Corporation, August 10, 2010,

Environmental, Social and Governance Investing by College and University Endowments in the United States: Social Responsibility, Sustainability, and Stakeholder Relations

With more than $400 billion in combined assets under management, US college and university endowments constitute an important segment of institutional investors involved in sustainable and responsible investing—defined here as the explicit incorporation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment decision-making and active-ownership activities. This study provides one of the most comprehensive analyses to date of the state of ESG investing by educational endowments.

Reinventing the Corporation

Any vision of the global future in the coming decades must include full recognition of the role transnational corporations play in shaping the planet’s human and ecological destiny. It is this reality that animates the intense contemporary debates about the role of business in society and the capacity—and will—of corporations to simultaneously create public benefit alongside private wealth at a scale and speed commensurate with the needs of a struggling, perilous world. It is difficult, arguably impossible, to imagine a future of 9 billion people living sustainably in the absence of systemic change in the purpose and design of corporations.

Originally published as Chapter 7 in Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2012).

Worker Equity in Food and Agriculture: Practices at the 100 Largest and Most Influential U.S. Companies

An understanding of the social impact of the food and agriculture industry requires insight into worker equity, a concept that embraces many issues: fair wages, safe working conditions, the right to organize, job security, professional development opportunities, and employee engagement. This report sets out to review the landscape of company practices and policies in worker equity at the 100 largest companies in the food and agriculture industry in the U.S. market. While harmful practices are widespread—and in some ways the industry norm—there are also promising examples of emerging best practices. This report attempts to address both trouble spots and best practices. The latter are highlighted here as precedents that other companies might follow, and as an indication of potential avenues for impact and influence.

The Architecture of Enterprise: Redesigning Ownership for a Great Transition

A growing array of alternative ownership designs point to a fundamentally different kind of economy, where basic social architectures—the architectures of ownership—are designed to be life-supporting. These new generative ownership archetypes provide an alternative to the dominant extractive ownership archetype of today. The new kind of economy may be more likely to create fair and just outcomes, to benefit the many rather than the few, and to enable an enduring human presence on a flourishing earth.

Higher Education in an Unsettled Century: Handmaiden or Pathmaker?

In an increasingly interdependent and turbulent world, we confront a future of great uncertainty. The perils are many, yet the opportunity remains for a fundamental change in ways of thinking and organizing society. In this quest, higher education can play a transformative role in the domains of education, understanding, and action, and especially the cultivation of informed and thoughtful global citizens. But first it must transform itself.

Published in Higher Education in the World 4: Higher Education’s Commitment to Sustainability: from Understanding to Action, edited by Miquel Barceló, 12-15. Barcelona: Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi), 2012.

Academic Excess: Executive Compensation at Leading Private Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts

This issue brief provides an in-depth analysis of excessive executive compensation at leading private, nonprofit institutions of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In recent decades, as the cost to attend a private college or university has spiraled upward, increasing numbers of senior college administrators have received six- and seven-figure compensation packages that place them at the upper echelons of the national income distribution.

Educational Endowments and the Financial Crisis: Social Costs and Systemic Risks in the Shadow Banking System

The high-risk, high-return “Endowment Model of Investing” adopted by many universities generated impressive financial returns in the boom years, but the financial crisis destroyed tens of billions in endowed wealth at colleges and universities within one year. Mounting endowment losses have been used by college administrations to justify some of the severest austerity measures in a quarter-century. This report looks at what happens—and who suffers—when universities embrace high-risk investing. It examines six privately endowed New England colleges and universities—Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—as case studies for exploring deeper connections between educational endowments and their impact on our institutions, our communities, and our economy.

The Unhappy Hedge Fund Manager: Thoughts on Work and Well-being

Does being (very) well-off enhance our sense of well-being? This paper explores the role of well-being in the workplace by reconsidering the pervasive assumption that more income leads to greater happiness. It cites a number of examples in the current economic downturn where companies’ offering of choices to employees about their form of compensation resulted in lower costs, greater work-life balance and employee retention, and a general increase in well-being. As firms seek to increase employee engagement, these types of cases can prompt us to rethink our assumptions about what the real hierarchies of needs are in our organizations and how rewards of all types affect performance.

When the World Rules Corporations: Pathway to a Global Corporate Charter

The ascent of transnational corporations poses fundamental questions about accountability, regulation, and the democratic process. Although their footprints cross continents, TNCs still operate under legal licenses granted by national or state authority. In order to rectify the incongruence between global impacts and state control, and to align corporate behavior with social and ecological purpose, we propose a World Corporate Charter Organization. By defining the obligations of TNCs, global charters would balance the current emphasis of international institutions, such as the World Trade Organization, on TNC rights. With public concern about corporate power on the rise, the moment is propitious for establishing transnational governance of transnational corporations, a precondition for attaining just and sustainable societies.

World Trade: A New Direction

Global trade negotiations are moribund, with the World Trade Organization’s agenda stalled and the neoliberal ideology it serves confronted by a rising chorus of criticism. The trading system, built on the premise that promoting commercial interests necessarily advances the general interest, instead has fed a multifaceted planetary crisis. At this juncture, trade policy must find a new way forward. The key to this change lies in reversing the priority that in the past made free trade an end in itself, thereby consigning the larger goal of sustainable development to an afterthought. From now on, economic, social, and environmental sustainability goals should set the criteria for designing and applying multilateral trade rules. We suggest concrete steps to help transform the WTO from an agent of privilege and profit into a force for an equitable, peaceful, and resilient world.

Impact Investing for Rural Wealth Creation: Investing for Financial Returns and Community Impact

Making investments that generate financial value as well as social and environmental value (impact investing) is becoming increasingly popular as more traditional forms of investing are showing signs of widespread failure. This report outlines investment systems that provide returns to investors and lasting positive impacts for communities, and addresses financial challenges experienced by rural communities. It also provides examples of key participants in the investment chain and successful strategies for connecting rural communities with investors.

The Five Capitals of Integrated Reporting: Toward a Holistic Architecture for Corporate Disclosure

If integrated reporting is to evolve into more than the casual juxtaposition of financial and sustainability information in paper or electronic format, these two traditions must converge toward a reporting architecture that builds on the strengths of both while enabling assimilation of new knowledge, new issues, and new metrics that flow from the social, environmental, and economic dynamics in the twenty-first century.

Originally published in Robert Eccles, Beiting Cheng, and Daniela Saltzman, eds., The Landscape of Integrated Reporting: Reflections and Next Steps (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School, 2010).

Paper Series on Corporate Design

Edited by Allen White.

  • Beyond the Crisis: Policies to Foster Long-Termism in Financial Markets
    Rebecca Darr and Judith Samuelson
  • Toward a Bretton Woods II: Aligning a New Global Financial Architecture with Sustainable Development
    Paul Epstein
  • Tomorrow’s Owners: Stewardship of Tomorrow’s Company
    Mark Goyder
  • The Origins and Costs of Short-Term Management
    Kent Greenfield
  • Not Just for Profit: Emerging Alternatives to the Shareholder-Centric Model
    Marjorie Kelly
  • Markets at Risk: The Limits of Modern Portfolio Theory
    Steve Lydenberg
  • How Should the Economy be Regulated?
    Richard Rosen
  • Work and Well-being
    John Stutz

Corporate Design: The Missing Organizational and Public Policy Issue of Our Time

Corporations are arguably the most powerful social institution of modern society, yet “Corporate Design” has yet to find a place on the public agenda. Debate thus far has focused on single companies and single issues; it has been driven by crisis rather than by a pro-active discussion. The authors propose a new and more intentional, analytic approach.

Originally published in New England Law Review 42, no. 4 (Winter 2008): 761-786.

Not Just For Profit

This article provides a discussion of various kinds of for-benefit enterprise design, including a three-part typology: stakeholder-owned companies, mission-controlled companies, and public-private hybrids. It explores how such emerging alternatives to the shareholder-centric model could help companies avoid ethical mishaps and contribute more to the world at large.

Originally published in Strategy and Business 54 (Spring 2009): 1-10.

Democratizing the Corporation

The various corporate governance initiatives that have arisen over the past decade have achieved significant strides toward containment of harms without altering the fundamental obligations and duties of corporations to broader societal interests. Corporate directors are more vigilant, managers are more attentive, and shareholders are better protected against losses linked to breakdowns in corporate governance, but shareholder primacy still remains intact. This chapter argues for the need to democratize corporate structure in order to make corporations better suited to the challenges and demands of the twenty-first century, and offers prototypes for such reforms.

Originally published in Heiko Spitzeck, Michael Parson, Wolfgang Amann, Shiban Khan, and Ernst von Kimakow, eds., Humanism in Business (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 229-247.

Work and Well-Being

In an economy focused on growth and individual gain, it is difficult to question the primacy of compensation among the indicators of welfare and create space for a broad discussion of the factors that contribute to well-being. Yet doing so is essential to corporate redesign. Earnings are but one contribution to a worker’s well-being. A long and satisfying work experience, rich in opportunity and fulfillment, depends on a host of tangible and intangible factors. The current economic crisis provides a rare opening for rethinking the linkage between well-being and work.

From Corporate Responsibility to Corporate Design: Rethinking the Purpose of the Corporation

These are trying times for corporate social responsibility (CSR). Two decades after its conception, one senses among many a kind of fatigue, impatience, even despair about the limits of CSR. Recent studies and skeptical perspectives yield a picture of CSR as a contingent movement, involving actions that will be undertaken only if the demands of priority stakeholders—namely investors and consumers—are concurrently met. It is time to think more systemically, beyond the boundaries of CSR, if business is to achieve the level of social contribution it is uniquely capable of making.

Originally published in the Journal of Corporate Citizenship 33 (Spring 2009): 23-27.

How Should the Economy Be Regulated?

Regulation has long been defined in terms of maximizing damage control—namely, to limit the negative behaviors of business to ensure protection of the public interest. While, to some degree, this damage control mindset should be maintained, now is an appropriate moment in time to complement damage control with proactive, positive regulatory principles that are designed to achieve specific public purposes. With a broad spectrum of urgent social, economic, and environmental problems upon us, enhanced regulatory structures and processes stand as a key opportunity to mobilize all our social resources toward solving such problems, while at the same time enhancing democratic process and consciousness.

The Democratic Economy of Public Utility Commissions

Regulation has long been defined in terms of damage control. This article argues for a need to expand this focus to include proactive principles for achieving society’s goals. An approach to democratizing the economy should rest on two key principles: (1) that private interests should fundamentally serve the public interest and (2) that regulation should be an instrument for democratic decision-making. The American model of the public utility commission (PUC) offers a way forward.

Originally published in openDemocracy, September 8, 2009,

Confessions of a CSR Champion: It’s Time to Rethink the ‘C’ in CSR

In evaluating the progress of CSR (corporate social responsibility), Allen White sees the limits inherent in dealing with the symptoms rather than addressing the deeper issue, i.e., redefining the entire concept of the modern corporation. The article addresses issues of governance, rewards and incentives, and ownership.

Originally published in Stanford Social Innovation Review (Winter 2009): 31.

Principles of Corporate Redesign

The juxtaposition of corporate power with persistent inequity and unsustainability raises profound questions about whether corporations are upholding their end of the social contract or, indeed, whether the social contract itself needs to be rewritten. This paper calls for rethinking the fundamentals of business-society relations to improve equity and examines structural solutions necessary to reconcile corporate contributions and societal needs.

Strategic Corporate Initiative: Toward a Global Citizens Movement to Bring Corporations Back Under Control

There are tectonic stresses building beneath the surface of our society—from global warming to ecosystem destruction to rising inequality—that threaten a global earthquake unlike any we have seen in recent history. The root cause of most of these problems can be found in the excessive power of global corporations. This report aims to spark a debate among civil society organizations about the need for a unified movement of movements to bring corporations back under democratic control. Such unified movement could be the catalytic force to create a humane, sustainable, democratic society and economy.

Why We Need Global Standards for Corporate Disclosure

After two years of gradual revelations concerning undisclosed information on suicidal risks to children on antidepressants, a federal advisory committee in September 2004 recommended that such drugs be labeled to alert physicians and consumers of this risk. The antidepressant story is noteworthy in its own right, shedding light on the tangled web of legal, regulatory, economic, and ethical issues surrounding disclosure practices in the pharmaceutical industry. The complex interworkings of an emerging global economy make it necessary for corporate standards for disclosure to be established and enforced.

Originally published in Law and Contemporary Problems 69 (2006): 167-186.

Trading into the Future: Rounding the Corner to Sustainable Development

Mark Halle explores the assumptions underlying the architecture of the multilateral trade regime and how it has both delivered and failed to deliver on the various promises of trade theory. He argues that sustainable development can be achieved by a more rigorous enforcement of and commitment to—rather than abandonment of—the espoused principles. He concludes by analyzing how trade would function in the three archetypal regions imagined in the Great Transition.

Essay #6 in the GTI Paper Series: Frontiers of a Great Transition

Transforming the Corporation

Allen White traces the genesis, growth, and evolution of the modern corporation and its role in wealth creation. He outlines a vision for the future of the corporation that reflects the core values of human solidarity, ecological sustainability, and quality of life. He then explores the way forward to realize such a values-based shift in the design and operation of the corporation.

Essay #5 in the GTI Paper Series: Frontiers of a Great Transition

Genetic Engineering in Agriculture

This paper proposes a novel approach to including the public in evaluating the impacts of food and agricultural biotechnology modeled after the growing practice of sustainability reporting by companies. The most visible among those, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), when implemented properly, includes a wide range of stakeholders, including the financial institutions, companies, NGOs, and civil society, in an interactive multi-stakeholder discourse and collaboration. The reporting exercise would open the discussion about the R&D around new GMO products, and could mitigate potential adverse effects in an early stage (Constructive Technology Assessment). We specifically propose initiating a broadly based societal initiative aimed at developing a new sectoral supplement of GRI Guidelines, specifically designed for the food and agricultural biotechnology sector.

Business Brief: Intangibles and CSR

Intangibles such as reputation, trust, and capacity to innovate—all widely recognized as fundamental to strong financial performance—are at the same time integral to the CSR agenda. Astute management of global supply chains, visionary environmental products and services, and proactive risk management through anti-corruption and HIV/AIDS initiatives are the kinds of practices associated with both CSR and quality of management. For the investment community, any determinant of quality of management is viewed as key to the overall assessment of company competitive prospects. This brief is an opening exploration of the intangibles-CSR relationship and provides a framework for understanding this relationship.

The Grasshoppers and the Ants: Why CSR Needs Patient Capital

This paper explores why and how capital markets undermine CSR, and what is being done—and should be done—to enlarge the pool of “patient capital.” CSR is about intergenerational stewardship of resources. It focuses on enriching the stock of human and natural capital, and creating wealth that is enduring and equitably distributed among those responsible for its creation. Juxtaposing these attributes of CSR with trends in capital markets, the misalignment between the two is serious and intensifying. The solution lies in a concerted effort of all market players—companies, analysts, investors, accounting bodies, and the public at large—to begin moving capital markets from a mentality of trading and transaction to one of care and custodianship.

Corporate Reporting: New Wine, New Bottles

A quiet renaissance in corporate reporting is gradually transforming its purpose, content, and readership. This transformation predates the recent spate of accountability misconduct, but is accelerating because of it. In a few short years, a new generation of reports will have moved from the extraordinary to the exceptional to the expected, thereby establishing a new standard of transparency unimaginable even a decade ago. For forward-looking managers, opportunities abound to stake out leadership positions among investors, employees, customers, and communities.

Fade, Integrate or Transform? The Future of CSR

CSR is at a crossroads. After a decade of evolution, the pathway forward defies easy prognosis. Will external events and company choices relegate CSR to a passing fad, leading to its fading from corporate and public agendas? Or will CSR reach full fruition as it becomes aligned, integrated, and fully institutionalized in company strategy and operations? Or, alternatively, is something more transformational on the horizon as CSR morphs into a deeper change mode, becoming a force for altering corporate purpose at the most fundamental and systemic level? This paper frames three potential scenarios, intentionally designed with stark differences in content and implications for companies and their stakeholders, and then assesses how the history of the CSR movement may inform its future.

Knowledge, Wealth and Information: The Case for Global Corporate Disclosure Standards

Though the contours of corporate obligations are gradually becoming more sharply delineated, the absence of accountability and enforceability at the international level remains a major stumbling block to achieving parity between rights and obligations. This paper argues for global disclosure standards as an integral part of such accountability. It uses the pharmaceutical industry as a case study, focusing in particular on the social cost of non-disclosure. Although the contours of a generally accepted disclosure framework are identifiable, details of sector-specific disclosures remain fluid. The issues need to be articulated, the indicators defined, and the measurement protocols developed.

Lost in Transition? The Future of Corporate Responsibility

The dizzying pace of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives continues unabated. For its champions, CSR is moving quickly from a curiosity to the mainstream. For its skeptics, it remains too marginal and too voluntary to make a real difference in business behavior. A decade of proliferating codes, collaboratives, conferences, and courses warrants pause and reflection by both theorists and practitioners alike. What path are we on? And is the path we are on the right one?

Corporate Governance & Corporate Sustainability Reporting: A Vital Link in 21st Century Accountability

The rise of corporate governance as one of the preeminent business issues in the early twenty-first century raises fundamental issues about the character of the modern corporation. How will it be managed, monitored, and regulated? How will it be held accountable to its stakeholders? Who are these stakeholders? And how must boards and managers conduct themselves in an increasingly complex, global economy in which decisions and events become public knowledge at “Internet speed”? This paper argues that strong and effective corporate governance will be increasingly characterized by sustainability reporting that provides full disclosure of environmental impacts, business practices, employment policies, health and safety standards, etc.

Global Public Policy Networks: An Emerging Innovation in Policy Development and Application

The 1990s saw an expansion of dialogue around environmental issues, an increasing concentration of market power, and an explosion of information and communication technology into the mainstream. The combination of these factors created a backdrop for the emergence of a key global public policy network—the Global Reporting Initiative—in which the free-flow of information and the rapidity of communication enabled interested parties to scrutinize corporate activities much more closely, while also providing incentives to these businesses for voluntary disclosure.

Improving Sustainability Disclosure: the Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has emerged as the leading initiative in building a new reporting infrastructure to complement financial reporting and address the non-financial aspects of the economic, environmental, and social performance of organizations. This chapter introduces the GRI and the trends that are driving increased sustainability disclosure. It describes the benefits of such reporting and concludes with considering a few of the challenges that lie ahead in elevating sustainability reporting to unprecedented levels of rigor, consistency, and comparability.

Originally published in Sissel Waage and Ray Anderson, eds., Ants, Galileo, and Gandhi: Designing the Future of Business through Nature, Genius, and Compassion (Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing Limited, 2003), 202-212.

The Keys to Success: A Compilation of Workable P2 Integration Techniques

This booklet is an effort to compile a user-friendly set of workable P2 (pollution prevention) integration techniques. Several years prior, Tellus Institute released the SPRINT Compendium, which identified and illustrated 50 practices that, in theory, could achieve P2 integration. With several years of experimentation among states, we can now assess which practices have been most successful. This booklet seeks to build on such experience and to encourage agencies at all levels to embrace not only these practices but also the enthusiasm to expand this ever-evolving list.

Right from the Start: Product Stewardship Through Life-Cycle Design

Life-cycle design (LCD), the application of life-cycle concepts to the design phase of product development, is emerging as a valuable tool for incorporating environmental impacts and trade-offs as a criterion in product/process design. An examination of LCD practices at three firms—IBM, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, and Armstrong World Industries—provides insight into how these methods evolve, as well as a glimpse into the dynamics of organizational innovation in relation to corporate environmental management.

Originally published in Corporate Environmental Strategy 6, no. 1 (Winter 1999): 15-23,

Servicizing: The Quiet Transition to Extended Product Responsibility

This study focuses on the environmental implications of an emerging class of product-based services, with emphasis on the business-to-business markets. Product-based services include the familiar—warrantees, maintenance agreements—as well as the less familiar—chemical management services, mobility services, furnishings management. It is clear that the simplest and most optimistic view—a service economy is inherently a clean economy—is insufficient and incorrect. This study builds on a number of case studies to recommend policy actions that can help ensure a sustainable path for the emerging service economy.

Sustainability and the Accountable Corporation

The pace at which corporate sustainability reporting will evolve is highly uncertain. Indeed, given the current state of environmental reporting, it may seem like a distant vision. Yet the same could have been said about environmental reporting a decade ago. And with the emergence of sustainability as the dominant paradigm for future development, it may well be that corporate sustainability reporting takes hold with an intensity and durability that surprises even the skeptics. For this to happen, such reporting will need a far more definitive framework than environmental reporting has now. The many reporting initiatives that have appeared in the last decade offer valuable insights into how such a framework may evolve.

Originally published in Environment 41, no. 8 (October 1999): 31-42.

Snapshots of Environmental Cost Accounting

This report demonstrates the financial results of actual environmental accounting applications. It highlights thirty-nine cases of companies using various forms of environmental accounting (EA) and offers a more detailed review (snapshot) of all of these cases. The snapshots represent applications of EA in small, medium, and large businesses in a variety of industries, and in a range of business decisions. Examples run the gamut from a small manufacturer of wooden doors examining an investment in a new lacquer process, to a large multinational health care products company measuring the value of its proactive environmental management program.

Pathway to Product Stewardship: Life-Cycle Design as a Business Decision-Support Tool

Numerous firms have begun incorporating environmental effects as a criterion in product/process design. However, because life-cycle design (LCD) is used as an internal decision-making tool, its strengths, successes, and limitations remain largely undocumented. This report uses case studies from three companies—(1) IBM, (2) Bristol-Myers Squibb, and (3) Armstrong World Industries—to understand how LCD is finding its way into business decision processes.

Strengthening Corporate Commitment to Pollution Prevention in Illinois: Concepts & Case Studies of Total Cost Assessment

If many P2 (pollution prevention) investments in fact are in the best interests of a profit-driven firm, why does such underinvestment in prevention persist? The answer is arguably twofold: (1) organizational characteristics of the firm and (2) economic/financial barriers. This report focuses primarily on the latter explanation, i.e., that P2 investments may be unable to compete with other potential uses of limited capital because they are disadvantaged by standard project financial evaluation techniques.