Creating Shared Value: Entrepreneurial and Corporate Models for a Changing Economy - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Creating Shared Value: Entrepreneurial and Corporate Models for a Changing Economy

Course Number 1978

Associate Professor Christopher Marquis
Fall; Q1Q2; 3 credits
28 Sessions

Career Focus

This course is for future business leaders - both entrepreneurs and executives - as they navigate a business environment that increasingly emphasizes the simultaneous creation of business and social value. The core premise is that there can be synergy between these two types of value, a view that is becoming increasingly mainstream and thus expected by a wide range of stakeholders. Through a variety of cases that show companies finding innovative solutions to social problems, CSV highlights the tensions companies face when designing and implementing shared value initiatives and underscores the necessary transformations of the mindsets of corporate leaders and the marketplace. CSV thus seeks to challenge beliefs about the role of business in doing good.

Educational Objectives

There are a variety of strategies for companies seeking to simultaneously create business and social value, either by transforming themselves into effective global citizens or by finding an innovative business-oriented approach to solving social problems. Such shared value business strategies include engaging customers through new socially-focused business models, motivating employees through socially-aware company cultures, advantageously modifying a company's competitive landscape, and re-engineering internal systems to turn responsible corporate policy into action. CSV provides future leaders with tools to attain double and triple bottom-line goals.

The main goal of CSV is to instill an understanding of the wide range of opportunities -both social and financial-for entrepreneurs and corporations in leveraging these changing conditions. Analyzing a diverse set of companies, CSV will present strategies used by companies at the most innovative end of the spectrum, whose very foundations are built on synergy between social and business value creation, as well as more conventional corporations that have managed to gain a competitive edge in the changing business environment by becoming active global citizens. A key element of CSV will be analyzing the processes by which businesses can effectively create system-level change; that is, how they change the external environment to increase the acceptance and popularity of their social missions.

Course Content and Organization

CSV focuses on three central sets of questions. First, how can a traditional profit-maximizing corporation adapt to new competitive conditions by adding a social component to its business strategy? CSV identifies and offers solutions to key tensions that corporate leaders face as they design and apply shared value strategies, and centers such strategies on the common theme of developing stakeholder relationships.

Second, CSV explores how social entrepreneurship, defined as the "pioneering [of] new product concepts that meet social needs using viable business models," creates economic value. How do the business models and stakeholder relationships of hybrid, social mission organizations differ from those of more traditional companies? How can these organizations grow while maintaining the integrity of their social missions?

Third, as entrepreneurs and corporations move into what are often uncharted waters, how can they best organize themselves internally and externally to simultaneously create social and business value? Answering this question requires considering the following issues: What internal processes need to be initiated and developed for companies to become effective at creating social value? What structural challenges come with having a hybrid mission? How can the impacts of social value creation be measured and evaluated? Finally, how can companies learn from such assessments in order to become more efficacious in their pursuit of social and business goals?

This course is part of a portfolio of courses relevant to Social Enterprise. For a full listing, see the Social Enterprise Initiative website.