Shared value is an elaboration of the notion of corporate self-interest — greed, if you will. The idea that companies can do well by doing good is certainly not new. It is an appealing proposition that over the years has been called “triple bottom line” (people, planet, profit), “impact investing” and “sustainability” — all describing corporate initiatives that address social concerns including environmental pollution, natural-resource depletion, public health and the needs of the poor.
The shared-value concept builds on those ideas, but it emphasizes profit-making not just as a possibility but as a priority. Shared value, Mr. Porter says, points toward “a more sophisticated form of capitalism,” in which “the ability to address societal issues is integral to profit maximization instead of treated as outside the profit model.”