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The Right Strategy: Benchmarks for Just Corporate Action


 

Facing escalating criticism, firms and their owners have rushed to argue that their profits are for the common good, often via perfunctory social or philanthropic initiatives that fail to demonstrate real impact. Even worse, "responsible practices" are often used as diversions from fundamental things that firms are systematically neglecting. In a new paper, I apply concepts of justice to come up with a set of ordered criteria that firms can voluntarily choose. To help society, firms do not need to climb to higher standards of justice. Yet, if they choose a higher-level standard, they should make sure that more basic conditions are met.

Although most writings on this topic have asked firms "to do more for society," without clear guidance on what baseline conditions need to be met, I argue that oftentimes “less may be more”—avoiding, for instance, investments in social projects simply to compensate for the neglect of basic rights or unfair competitive practices.


Public-Private Collaboration and Success Factors in Public Innovations


We recently collaborated with Accenture Research to carry out a comparative study of 24 public innovation initiatives in Brazil, India, and South Africa. While we found a complex web of alliances with for-profit and not-for-profit private actors, our findings indicate that the success of thoese iniatives requires strong public capabilities to lead and operationally manage those projects. In other words, higher private engagement cannot be seen as a way to supplant inneficient governments; it requires concurrent development of public capabilities to jointly lead and co-manage those projects. Check Accenture's report and our research article discussing the main findings of this study.


Insper Metricis: Supporting the Emerging Field of Impact Investing


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Insper Metricis is an initiative to support the measurement of socio-environmental impact in the emerging field of impact investing. We have also developed guidelines to help investors and entrepreneurs develop robust measurment plans. In addition, we wrote a research paper describing alternative busineess models through which impact investors try to balance financial and social performance.