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Grow the Pie
How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit

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  • Date Published: April 2020
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108494854
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About the Authors
  • A Financial Times Book of the Year 2020! What is a responsible business? Common wisdom is that it's one that sacrifices profit for social outcomes. But while it's crucial for companies to serve society, they also have a duty to generate profit for investors - savers, retirees, and pension funds. Based on the highest-quality evidence and real-life examples spanning industries and countries, Alex Edmans shows that it's not an either-or choice - companies can create both profit and social value. The most successful companies don't target profit directly, but are driven by purpose - the desire to serve a societal need and contribute to human betterment. The book explains how to embed purpose into practice so that it's more than just a mission statement, and discusses the critical role of working collaboratively with a company's investors, employees, and customers. Rigorous research also uncovers surprising results on how executive pay, shareholder activism, and share buybacks can be used for the common good.

    • Business has lost the public's trust. Citizens are calling for crackdowns against business, viewing it as the enemy, and voting for populist leaders. But this book shows how companies can be a force for good - and how to reform them so that this becomes a reality
    • Many managers run their business primarily for profit. While most companies have CSR departments, they're often ancillary and disconnected from the core business. This book shows how a purpose-driven approach not only serves society, but also makes businesses more profitable in the long-term. Responsibility isn't just 'worthy' or an optional extra, but urgent and fundamental to a company's success
    • Executive pay, shareholder activism, and share buybacks are hugely unpopular. But they're also hugely misportrayed. This book uses the highest-quality evidence to uncover surprising results - in particular, how they can be used to serve wider society rather than only the elites
    • The book takes both sides - business and society
    Read more


    • Winner, Financial Times Business Book of the Month, March 2020

    Reviews & endorsements

    'I do not know whether capitalism is in crisis. But I do know Alex Edmans’ superb book makes the case, compellingly and comprehensively, for a radical rethink of how companies operate and indeed why they exist. It is the definitive account of the analytical case for responsible business, but is at the same time practical and grounded in real business experience. It is a tour de force.' Andy Haldane, Chief Economist, Bank of England

    'Politicians are calling for large companies to be regulated or split up. In this compelling book Alex Edmans argues that there is indeed a problem with corporate behavior but that the solution may be simpler: change corporate purpose so that companies focus on growing the pie rather than grabbing more of it. Edmans’s arguments are a powerful and persuasive antidote to much of the conventional wisdom about the corporate world.' Oliver Hart, 2016 Nobel Laureate in Economics

    'This is a brilliant and timely book, taking the business case for responsible capitalism to a whole new level. Edmans provides a rigorous, evidence-based approach, exploring numerous angles around how businesses can (and, as he shows, must) combine profit-seeking with purpose as well as the role investors and other stakeholders can play in driving a genuine win-win approach. He tackles counter-arguments head-on and has the courage to expose examples of virtue-signalling that falsely discredit responsible businesses. Citing case studies collated over decades, it's a great read, too, offering fascinating examples well beyond the usual suspects. Grow the Pie really has the power to convince the sceptics as well as encourage advocates consider new ways to embed the approach further in their businesses.' Dame Helena Morrissey, financier and founder of the 30% Club

    'This is a must-read book for anyone interested in reforming capitalism - particularly in its role of serving wider society. The book is grounded in academic evidence, but the ideas are highly practical, and recognize the need for business to be profitable as well as purposeful. Most companies have inspiring mission statements; Edmans provides a concrete framework for translating them into actual practice. He does not shy away from acknowledging the challenges with running a purpose-driven company - balancing multiple objectives, achieving investor buy-in, and making decisions where the key criteria cannot be quantified. Instead, he tackles them head-on, giving clear guidelines on how to navigate tough decisions, which he illustrates with powerful examples.' Dominic Barton, former Global Managing Partner of McKinsey

    'The quest to encourage companies to adopt positive values, for the benefit of all stakeholders, sometimes seems long on vision and short on firepower. Edmans, a finance professor, provides plenty of ammunition to support the idea that visionary leaders can expand the whole “pie” in pursuit of purpose and profit.' Andrew Hill, Financial Times, Best Books of 2020

    'This is an original and important book that will help transform how business sees itself - and how we see business. Alex Edmans in his passionate advocacy of 'Pieconomics' challenges us all to adopt a mindset and unity of purpose in which all business actions contribute to pie growing. The implications are radical and far-reaching. Read it: it will challenge how you think.' Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College, Oxford and Observer columnist

    'In Grow the Pie, Alex Edmans has provided us with a valuable contribution to contemporary thinking about how business can be a force for good in society. His thought-provoking, often contrarian, ideas are rigorously logical, delving beneath the superficial analyses we often see, which assume correlation implies causation. And Alex’s engaging storytelling brings the principles of ‘Pieconomics’ to life with examples of prominent business people - not just those who understand the benefits of growing the pie - but also those who don’t.' Sir James G. M. Wates, Chairman of Wates Group

    'Alex Edmans has done a great service to society by showing that business doesn't have to be a zero-sum game if we focus more on growing the pie rather than maximizing our slice of it. This is capitalism with a human face.' Andrew Lo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    'Just as Freakonomics encouraged readers to look beyond the conventional wisdom that underlies many public policies, now Professor Alex Edmans introduces the concept of Pieconomics. In Grow the Pie, he challenges popular rhetoric that the free enterprise system is broadly detracting from society. Instead, through many and varied examples, he offers an alternate lens through which we can interpret what constitutes responsible business. In this thoroughly readable book, Edmans debunks mythologies about corporate behavior and offers a new vocabulary by which we can have principled discussions about the role of business in society.  A 'must read' for leaders in government, business and the media that reports on both.' Paula Rosput Reynolds, Director of GE, BP, and BAE

    'This book is a must-read for asset owners, fund managers and for the boards and executives who lead business enterprise. It provides evidence-based analysis and guidance on how the influence of well-designed stewardship can yield benefit in terms of both financial returns for savers and investors and returns for all stakeholders in a way that benefits society as a whole.' Sir David Walker, former Chairman of Barclays and Morgan Stanley International, author of the Walker Review

    'Alex Edmans has produced rigorous evidence that the choice between people and profits is a false dichotomy. Now he makes his work accessible to a broader audience and explains how it’s possible to overcome the tradeoffs that hold so many leaders and companies back.' Adam Grant, author of Originals and Give and Take and host of the TED podcast WorkLife

    'This uplifting book provides powerful examples, as well as evidence, that socially responsible businesses generate even higher long term profits than corporations focused on short term profit maximisation. Value is created particularly in new economy enterprises by employee purpose, creation of brand and reputation which drives customer preference. The findings reflects my own real world experiences of striving for business excellence across the global LifeSciences industry.' David Pyott, former Chairman and CEO of Allergan

    'Finance Professor Alex Edmans defines his purpose in life as ‘to use rigorous research to influence the practice of business.’ This book, Growing the Pie, demonstrates his manifest success in fulfilling that purpose. Edmans mobilizes evidence - not anecdotes - to make a case, both accessible and compelling, for policies and practices that increase the value available for all stakeholders versus simply and simplistically maximizing profit. Edmans’ critical contribution is to reframe arguments about business and capitalism from an all too prevalent short-term zero-sum game to collaborative games where, over time, all can benefit.' Bill Janeway, Warburg Pincus

    'Alex Edmans provides robust evidence against the claim that businesses must choose between shareholder value and social responsibility. Although there are trade-offs, there is no single trade-off. What is good for shareholders can be good for society: evidence matters.' Baroness Onora O’Neill, University of Cambridge

    'An important, thoughtful, and timely book. The conflicts surrounding business, and its effects on society, are the subject of a heated debate. With clarity and insight, Alex Edmans makes a valuable contribution to this key debate. Anyone interested in this important subject would find much to learn from, or wrestle with, in this book.' Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard University, Massachusetts

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    17th Feb 2021 by Chengzhu

    This book is very useful and rich for teaching ESG related courses

    Review was not posted due to profanity


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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108494854
    • length: 382 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 27 mm
    • weight: 0.66kg
    • contains: 19 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    How to read this book
    Part I. Why grow the pie? Introducing the idea:
    1. The pie-growing mentality: a new approach to business that works for both investors and society
    2. Growing the pie doesn't aim to maximise profits – but often does: freeing a company to take more investments, ultimately driving its success:
    3. Growing the pie doesn't mean growing the enterprise: three principles to guide trade-offs and which projects to turn down
    4. Does pieconomics work?: data – not wishful thinking – shows that companies can both do good and do well
    Part II. What grows the pie? Exploring the evidence:
    5. Incentives: rewarding long-term value creation while deterring short-term gaming
    6. Stewardship: the value of engaged investors that both support and challenge management
    7. Repurchases: investing with restraint, releasing resources to create value elsewhere in society
    Part III. How to grow the pie? Putting it into practice:
    8. Enterprises: the power of purpose and how to make it real
    9. Investors: turning stewardship from a policy into a practice
    10. Citizens: how individuals can act and shape business, rather than be acted upon
    Part IV. The bigger picture:
    11. Growing the pie more widely: win-win thinking at the national and personal levels
    Action items

  • Author

    Alex Edmans, London Business School
    Alex Edmans is Professor of Finance at London Business School and a leading authority on reforming business to serve the common good – but using solutions based on rigorous evidence and recognising the importance of both investors and stakeholders. He has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos, testified in the UK Parliament, presented to the World Bank Board of Directors as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series, and given the TED talk 'What to Trust in a Post-Truth World' and the TEDx talk 'The Social Responsibility of Business'. He also serves as Mercers School Memorial Professor of Business at Gresham College, London, where he gave a public lecture series on 'How Business Can Better Serve Society'. He has published in all the leading academic finance journals, written for the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review, and appeared live on Bloomberg, BBC, CNBC, CNN, ITV, and Sky News.


    • Winner, Financial Times Business Book of the Month, March 2020
    • Financial Times Summer Books of 2020
    • Financial Times Best Books of 2020: Business.

Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit

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