While Shared Value Creation promises big benefits to private sector companies, governments and societies have the potential of being the biggest beneficiaries. To capitalize, however, they must become much more active and effective in partnering with both the private and non-profit sectors.
My February 6 blog (Shared Value Creation: The Next Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility and of Capitalism) explained the many benefits that corporations can achieve through a new, more business-aligned approach to corporate philanthropy. This approach, which is called Shared Value Creation, consists of “policies and practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the social and economic conditions of the communities in which it operates,” It is a concept, which as Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter explains, is becoming more than a corporate opportunity—it is practically becoming a corporate mandate: a form of “self-interested behavior” that creates economic value for the company, by the very process of creating societal value.
As Porter described in his January 2011 Harvard Business Review article, when applied effectively, shared value creation can burnish a company’s brand, attract new customers and help a company recruit employees and improve employee commitment to the organization. This, however, is only the tip of a value proposition that can go much deeper. It can directly help the company enter new markets, improve economies in existing markets and create totally new business opportunities—generating cost savings, as well as revenue gains.
While the HBR article and my February 6 blog focused on the opportunities for corporations to benefit from Shared Value Creation, a January 2011 Accenture study, New Waves of Growth: Unlocking Opportunity in the Multi-Polar World, effectively suggests ways in which shared value creation can help communities and countries, as well as companies.
Capitalizing on the Four Waves of Growth
According to the Accenture report, governments that hope to create significant growth in GDP and jobs over the next decade must capitalize on what it identifies as four major waves of growth. These waves are based on opportunities being created around:
- The “silver” economy. The graying of the population, as through initiatives in areas including connected health, health and welfare products and services, lifelong finance and new products that are optimized for older people;
- The resource economy. The providing of more reliable and cleaner sources of energy and other types of increasingly scarce resources (land, water, food, minerals, etc.), including the need to build and manage intelligent infrastructures and processes (as for energy, buildings, water and land management and so forth);
- A multi-technology future. The rapid adoption and increasingly integrated roles that new technologies (such as superfast broadband, cloud computing, sensors, analytics, mobility and security) will play across all industries and processes and as integrated with traditionally distinct disciplines to create new fields such as bio-informatics, micropayments and manu-services;
- The emerging-markets surge. The rise of a multi-polar world in which economic activity and resources are increasingly gravitating toward emerging economies and rapidly growing urban centers and creating new opportunities for all types of low-cost goods and services, citizen services and smart infrastructures.
Countries that effectively capitalize on these waves can, according to an Oxford Economics’ analysis commissioned by Accenture, gain huge benefits. The U.S., for example, could add 0.7 percentage points to its otherwise anticipated 3.1% average annual GDP growth and create 9.7 million additional jobs by 2020—a level of economic output and job growth equivalent to the current size of the entire U.S. auto industry. Other countries could achieve correspondingly similar gains. Germany, for example, could boost average GDP growth by 32% and employment by an additional 3 million, United Kingdom by 24% and 2.6 million and India by about 9% and 37.5 million jobs.
The Government Mandate
Although Accenture paints an encouraging picture for countries and societies that can effectively ride these waves of growth, accomplishing these results will take years of hard work. Strategies must be developed, smart infrastructures built, business environments enhanced and most critically, millions of people must be educated, trained and retrained to create and effectively utilize new capabilities.
This leads to the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity of all. For better or worse, no single company, government or sector of society has the resources, the skills or the reach required to define comprehensive national strategies for, much less create the foundations for capitalizing on these waves. Positioning a country to capitalize will require entirely new levels of cooperation and coordination among all types of businesses, all layers of government and many different non-profit organizations (especially schools and universities).
This is a challenge in that so few countries have seriously attempted to foster this type of cooperation (and in that many attempts to do so have failed). It is an opportunity in that there has never before been such an urgent need to do so. Emerging countries must do so to address the rapidly growing aspirations (not to speak of the expectations and demands) of their citizens. Developed countries must find ways of compensating for relative declines in economic power and security and especially for preparing their citizens to compete and thrive in an increasingly global workforce.
The good news is that there are a growing number of examples in which corporations, schools, foundations and government entities are cooperating to address common needs. These, as discussed in my last two years of blogs and reports, include Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Program, IBM’s Academic Initiative, Intel’s Teach and Entrepreneurship programs, General Electric’s Ecomagination program (see my forthcoming March blogs and report) and IBM’s Smarter Planet and Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities initiatives (see my forthcoming April blogs). Not to speak of Accenture’s own Skills to Succeed program.
But as effective as some of these and other industry efforts have been, and as promising as some of their prospects, most address only specific, often local elements of huge, multi-faceted national problems. Large-scale success will require thousands of such initiatives and increasingly formal coordination among them.
There is, however, precious little evidence that most countries are prepared for such efforts. The U.S., in particular, has a fundamental and very vocal disagreement as to whether such efforts will indeed help or harm the country. But disagreement notwithstanding, President Obama is intent on creating foundations for such cooperation. He has, for example, engaged foundations in his effort to enhance community college curricula and graduation rates and has recently enlisted two high-profile business executives to chair groups that are intended to align public and private-sector efforts around initiatives to prepare the nation for the future (and incidentally, to capitalize on Accenture’s waves).
In January 20011, he named General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt as chairman of his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (whose mission is described by its name) and Steve Case as chairman of Startup America (whose goal is to promote entrepreneurism and high-growth startups). Both are likely to enlist other executives into their efforts and coordinate their efforts with other business constituencies. Immelt is likely to draw members and ideas from groups to which he belongs, such as the Business Roundtable and the Business Council. Startup America, meanwhile, has already won support of and about $400 million in funding from IBM, Intel and Hewlett-Packard. Both groups will at least formalize private sector inputs into critical government decisions. Ideally they will do more, such as usher in an era of cooperation among public, private and non-profit sectors.
After all, as Accenture explains, no one segment of the economy controls all of the levers required to mobilize all the country’s efforts. “Coordination among the three sectors—business, government and non-profit—will no longer be a bonus, but a necessity.”