Chapter 9: Managing Businesses in Uncertain Times: Sustainable Development and an Ensemble Leadership Repertoire
Vikram Murthy 9.1 INTRODUCTION: THE EVIDENCED REALITY OF THE PLANET’S BURGEONING PROBLEMS The challenges of climate change and sustainable development highlight three complementary hypotheses that form the backdrop to the following discourse. The first of these is that governments will not solve climate change without business at the table as an engaged and involved partner. This is a bold assertion, especially in light of the fact that business was assigned no role to play in Copenhagen (Stigson 2009). Its omission is unfortunate because the second hypothesis is that societal perceptions of the role of business have shifted markedly and it is increasingly being looked to for solutions to global problems (WBCSD 2009). The third and final hypothesis is taking shape even as business continues to jostle for voice and vote at the table of global agendas. Ban Ki-moon, the present Secretary-General of the UN, describes it best when he calls on business to ‘give practical meaning and reach to the values and principles that connect cultures and people everywhere’ (UNGC 2008, p. 4). This quantum leap in the raison d’être of business is in sharp relief to the prevailing wisdom of thought-leaders as recently as a few decades ago. Today’s call for business to ‘move from value to values, from shareholders to stakeholders, and from balance sheets to balanced development’ (Annan, cited in EFMD 2005, p. 6), for example, is in stark contrast to the unequivocal damning of ‘drives for social responsibility in business’ (Friedman 1970; cited in Rae...
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