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Creating Shared Value: Restoring the Legitimacy of Business and Advancing Competitiveness

Special issue call for papers from Competitiveness Review

Guest Editors: Markus Scholz, University of Applied Science Vienna, Gastón de los Reyes, George Washington University School of Business, Mark Pfitzer, FSG

Submission deadline: 15 August 2016


Background and Motivation:

Ever since Michael Porter and Mark Kramer proposed Creating Shared Value (CSV) as a cure for the ailing legitimacy of business—originally in 2006 and more prominently in 2011—the idea has earned a central place in the conversation about the impacts—positive and negative—of business in society. McKinsey & Co. gave its award for the best article in Harvard Business Review in 2011 to Porter and Kramer’s contribution, which has already been cited nearly 3,000 times. The core idea in CSV is that companies should not ignore society, as under the narrow conception of capitalism that has done so much harm to the legitimacy of business, but rather should search for business opportunity in society’s needs. Strategies that respond to the challenges presented by society and the environment and also reinforce the competitive advantage of a company create shared value.

Academics who study business ethics and corporate responsibility remain sceptical about CSV, but even they confirm the significance of the idea by publishing critical articles in leading journals (e.g., Crane et al., 2014; Beschorner, 2013; see Dembek et al., forthcoming). Outside the academy, in the realm of corporate practice, Creating Shared Value has become a buzzword and a call to business action to address matters of sustainability—environmental and societal. CSV as a strategy tool has taken off, already adopted by leading international companies ranging from Allianz to Mattel and Nestlé to Unilever, to name only a few noteworthy examples.

Despite the far-reaching influence of Porter and Kramer’s work on CSV, the idea remains largely underdeveloped in its applications and in response to its criticisms, with few exceptions (e.g., Porter et al. 2012; Pfitzer 2013). This Special Issue aims to fill this gap. We call for papers that are motivated by the potential of CSV, and that are also mindful of the limitations presented by the approach, so as to further the excellence of strategy in society, both critically and constructively.

Goals and Topics:

The Special Issue invites papers that offer novel empirical and theoretical contributions that explore the scope and impact of CSV as well as its limitations and possible enhancements of the approach. 

• CSV case studies: Accounts of successful CSV initiatives (especially in industrial countries) that can elucidate how the value chain was developed and/or inspire the managerial imagination and initiative required to pursue similar initiatives

• Expansion of the CSV tool box: Theoretical and practical contributions that ground understanding of the CSV tool box according to the three modes identified by Porter and Kramer (i.e., new products and markets, reconceiving the value chain, and creating clusters) and, especially, that can expand the toolbox either with more detailed constructs (e.g., CSV based in new products in a service industry), through hybrid modes or with altogether new modes

• CSV possibilities: Theoretical contributions that identify how the CSV logic can be connected with the broader goals of the world community (e.g., the United Nations Millennium Development Goals / Sustainable Development Goals)

• CSV limitations: What are possible limitations of CSV?

• CSV organizationally: How should top management conceptualize and implement CSV strategies alongside more traditional business strategies? How should firms manage a “portfolio” of CSV initiatives? How to measure the comparative contribution to society of different CSV (and non-CSV) strategies? Measurement and reward systems. Whether to launch new initiatives in existing or specialized units.

• Replies to critics / further developments: How should CSV scholars respond to the critics from the CSR / business ethics community?


1.     All papers will be subject to double-blind peer review, according to author guidelines available at:
2.     Submissions to Competitiveness Review are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts: (please select the correct special issue from the drop-down menu)

Submission deadline: 15 August 2016


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Bertini, M. and Gourville, J.T. (2012), “Pricing to Create Shared Value”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 90 No. 6, pp. 96–104.

Beschorner, T. (2013), “Creating Shared Value: The One-Trick Pony Approach. A Comment on Michael Porter and Mark Kramer”, Business Ethics Journal Review, Vol. 1 No. 17, pp. 106–112.

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