Business & Community: Shared Value Thinking


One of the things we seem to be most proud of in the Hills District, is our strong sense of community, and the desire of those who live and work here to retain that. And while advancing technology and an increasing population would seem to be natural enemies of that aim, just the opposite might prove to be true.

The rapid pace of technological advance is not just driving innovation and delivering disruptive entrepreneurs and new business models. It’s changing our values. It’s changing our ideas on what’s possible. And it’s encouraging us to review everything we see around us, and ask: Is there a better way?

A new generation of business leaders is asking the same question.

The now familiar concept of ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) has quietly evolved in the last few years. Now we have ‘social good enterprises’ and prominent business leaders incorporating ‘shared value thinking’ strategies. And that’s cause for optimism. We’ve come to expect companies to be good ‘corporate citizens’ as a minimum. It is time to raise the bar.

What is shared value thinking?

Put simply, shared value thinking is a business strategy that seeks to improve business outcomes by improving social outcomes in a related community sector.

The concept has been around for a good while. In 2000, Executive Director of the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, Bradley Googins, said:

“…the future for CCI [corporate community involvement] lies not in its ability to help sell more products, recruit more employees, or win environmental permits. Rather, the future of CCI lies in its ability to connect the strengths of businesses and communities together to build healthy, sustainable communities in which to live, work and do business.”

The term ‘shared value thinking’ seems to have been introduced in 2011 by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer with their article Strategy & Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility.

They developed the argument that a corporate social agenda should reinforce corporate strategy by actively aiding social progress, rather than simply mitigate damage; and that when that occurs, there is a benefit to the company because the state of communities and the companies that operate in them, are mutually dependent. In other words, when the community thrives, the companies within them do too.

It makes perfect sense, which is no doubt why the concept of shared value thinking is becoming increasingly common in corporate strategies.

3 ways to create shared value opportunities

While the concept of shared value thinking is simple, implementing it isn’t as simple as supporting charities in your community. You have to dig much deeper.

In another article, Creating Shared Value: How to reinvent capitalism – and unleash a wave of innovation and growth (Harvard Business Review, 2011) Porter and Kramer listed 3 key ways a business could create shared value opportunities:

  • By reconceiving products and markets
  • By redefining productivity in the value chain
  • By enabling local cluster development

They say that by looking through the lens of shared value, companies can identify new approaches, which in turn generates greater innovation and growth for the company, as well as greater social benefits.

Sound like a true win-win for business and community.

Shared value thinking in our community

Of course, there have always been business leaders with an intuitive understanding of shared value thinking, and businesses that have established mutually beneficial relationships with the communities in which they operate.

At our 14 February Business Breakfast, we’ll be looking at the links between business and community in the Hills District. The speaker panel will include David Inkster from PRD Norwest (on behalf of Capital Bluestone), and Melanie Morson from Castle Hill RSL.

We’ll be discussing a range of related topics, including:

  • How Capital Bluestone and Castle Hill RSL engage with the local community
  • How these two businesses harness technology and innovation to engage with the community
  • The positive role developers can play in shaping communities
  • The dynamics and decisions behind the design of a new local development
  • The role businesses can play in supporting and empowering the next generation

Bookings are essential, and you can register for the event here.


About the author: Leonie Seysan is the director of Article Writers Australia, an agency which provides content writing services to business.  


Join our Newsletter

Platinum Partners