The Sustainability Frontier
Edited by Urs P. Jäger and Vijay Sathe
Latin America has experienced phenomenal economic growth in recent years, propelled by high demand for the region’s commodity exports, increasing levels of foreign investment and an increase in the size of the middle class. But despite a growth rate that has outpaced that of North America and Europe, there is increased questioning of the legitimacy of market-based economies. Widespread economic growth has not solved persistent social ills, and much of the population does not see a link between GDP growth and widespread prosperity. Companies point to the new jobs they create and the taxes they pay, but many in society see companies as exporting natural resources and capturing profits, and leaving behind few long-term benefits. The conflict between the business sector and the rest of society is reflected in rising social tensions and well-publicized demonstrations across the region in countries ranging from Peru to El Salvador to Brazil. Shared value offers companies in Latin America opportunities to increase their competitiveness and profitability by helping to solve social problems. Shared value points toward a way that companies can grow and thrive while contributing to an improved quality of life for the broader Latin American populace and helps diminish the social conflict that so much of Latin America is facing.
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