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Capitalism at the Crossroads: The Unlimited Business Opportunities in Solving the World's Most Difficult Problems (Inglés) Tapa dura – 1 feb 2005


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http://www.socialfunds.com/news/article.cgi/article1596.html Book Review--Capitalism at the Crossroads: The Unlimited Business Opportunities in Solving the World's Most Difficult Problems by William Baue According to author Stuart Hart, sustainable global enterprise holds the key to reducing poverty, reversing environmental destruction, and even counteracting terrorism. SocialFunds.com -- Cornell and University of North Carolina Business Professor Stuart Hart's Capitalism at the Crossroads perfectly complements University of Michigan Business Professor C. K. Prahalad's The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, perhaps even surpassing it in significance. The two professors collaborated from 1998 through 2002 on the seminal article that gave birth to the "bottom of the pyramid" (BOP) concept that Prof. Prahalad explains so eloquently in his book (see related book review). The BOP market theory holds that multinational corporations (MNCs) can simultaneously profit and help reduce global poverty by serving a market they have largely ignored until recently: the 4 billion people in the world living on less than $2 a day. As good as Prof. Prahalad's book is, however, it leaves unanswered the question of how the BOP theory fits into the larger context of sustainability, particularly environmental sustainability. Prof. Hart's book not only answers this question, but also presents a comprehensive and compelling argument that capitalism cannot afford to ignore sustainability--indeed, that capitalism will thrive by embracing sustainability (and vice versa). "This book takes the contrarian's view that business--more than either government or civil society--is uniquely equipped, at this point in history, to lead us toward a sustainable world in the years ahead," writes Prof. Hart. "Properly focused, the profit motive can accelerate (not inhibit) the transformation toward global sustainability, with nonprofits, governments, and multilateral agencies all playing crucial roles as collaborators." Prof. Hart introduces the book describing how the shift in the relationship between capitalism and environmentalism from antagonistic to (sometimes) complementary forces mirrored his own shift from distrusting capitalism to respecting its power to leverage positive social change. The "greening" revolution of the 1980s demonstrated that companies could profit by employing more environmentally benign processes, such as recycling or waste reduction. However laudable the greening approach is, it became apparent in the 1990s that reducing the environmental impact of existing business models would prove insufficient to address the imminent environmental and social crises, according to Prof. Hart. He was among those who at that time promoted moving "beyond greening" through "creative destruction" of environmentally and economically wasteful processes, replacing them with environmentally (and economically) beneficial processes. "Unlike greening, which works through the existing supply chain to effect continuous improvement in the current business system, 'beyond greening' strategies focus on emerging technologies, new markets, and unconventional partners and stakeholders," writes Prof. Hart. "Such strategies are thus disruptive to current industry structure and raise the possibility of significant repositioning, enabling new players to establish leading positions as the process of creative destruction unfolds." The primary business strategy that promises to arise from the ashes of creative destruction is the BOP approach of serving the needs of the poor in ways that are culturally appropriate,

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Capitalism is indeed at a crossroads, facing international terrorism, worldwide environmental change, and an accelerating backlash against globalization. Companies are at crossroads, too: finding new strategies for profitable growth is now more challenging. Both sets of problems are intimately linked. Learn how to identify sustainable products and technologies that can drive new growth while also helping to solve today's most crucial social and environmental problems. Hart shows how to become truly indigenous to all markets -- and avoid the pitfalls of traditional 'greening' and 'sustainability' strategies. This book doesn't just point the way to a capitalism that is more inclusive and more welcome: it offers specific techniques to recharge innovation, growth, and profitability.

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