Home | Book Reviews | Oct/Nov 11 | Capitalism at Risk: Rethinking the Role of Business

Capitalism at Risk: Rethinking the Role of Business

image
By Joseph L. Bower, Herman B. Leonard, and Lynn S. Paine

What does the future hold for the global market?

Simply put, market capitalism is the most successful engine of wealth creation for society. In the last quarter of the 20th century, more than 97 percent of the world’s countries experienced increased wealth.  According to the World Bank, more than 450 million people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since 1990.

The global financial meltdown of 2008 has threatened to reverse what capitalism has created over recent decades. After moving on from the blame game and deciding who should fix the system’s ills, many will point to government as being responsible for saving capitalism.

But Harvard Business School professors Joseph L. Bower, Herman B. Leonard, and Lynn S. Paine, authors of the compelling new book, Capitalism at Risk: Rethinking the Role of Business (Harvard Business Review Press, October 3rd, 2011) put the responsibility squarely on business.

In Capitalism at Risk, Bower, Leonard, and Paine draw on discussions with business leaders around the world to identify ten potential disruptors of the global market system and diagnose the causes behind existing institutions inability to combat them effectively. While the authors certainly recognize that the government will play a role in restoring capitalism, they maintain that all businesses, whether small, large or global, should lead the way by taking advantage of the vital opportunities fruited by the current threats to market capitalism.

“Business has a crucial role to play in addressing these threats,” says Paine.  “Some say that these issues are best left to governments. We disagree. Good government is very, very important, but if business stands on the sidelines waiting for governments to act, it may well be too late.”

“An important book. The authors argue that the future of market-driven capitalism is at risk unless business leaders develop new strategies that reduce the negative fallouts of the system, such as growing income disparity and environmental degradation. A clarion call for business to take the lead in saving
the system of market capitalism.”

-Barbara Hackman Franklin, President and CEO, Barbara Franklin Enterprises; former U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Capitalism at Risk: Rethinking the Role of Business will be available on Amazon.com and major book retail websites in October. 

About the authors:

Joseph L. Bower is the Baker Foundation Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Over the past four decades, his research has focused on the challenges involved in leading companies as they deal with important changes in the economic, social, and political environment.

Herman B. Leonard is the Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and George F. Baker, Jr., Professor of Public Management at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. His work at HBS has focused on corporate social responsibility and the leadership of socially oriented components of business organizations.

Lynn S. Paine is the John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. She has written widely on the leadership and governance of companies that meld high ethical standards with outstanding financial results.

  • email Email this article
  • print Print
  • Plain text Plain text