MAKING MONEY MORAL

HOW A NEW WAVE OF VISIONARIES IS LINKING PURPOSE AND PROFIT

A brief but wide-ranging primer on an increasingly hot topic.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

An expertly detailed synopsis of a major shift in the global corporate environment toward pairing profitability with a moral mission.

According to Rodin and debut author Madsbjerg, the world of commerce has recently undergone a seismic shift, the kind that promises to refashion the very nature of capitalism. While social responsibility was once understood as exhausted in the maximization of shareholder value, an idea forcefully articulated by Milton Friedman, now the trend is to interpret making money and doing good as necessary partners or, as the authors put it, to “make money moral.” Linking purpose and profit is burgeoning in the world of investment: “In sustainable and impact investing, the financial resources and expertise of the money managers are what enable large-scale capital flows to be directed toward solving global challenges—social and environmental issues that the problem solvers are working to fix.” A confluence of events—including the rise of aggressive activism, increasing awareness of systemic problems like income inequality, and the devastation wrought by Covid-19—engendered a more enlightened “conscious consumerism” and a corporate world ready to respond to their demands. Regarding investing, this entails a collaboration between money managers (the whole cosmos of asset managers) and problem-solvers (governmental and nonprofit)—a sometimes fraught partnership thoughtfully addressed by the authors. Rodin and Madsbjerg write from extensive experience, and it shows—the former was the president of The Rockefeller Foundation, the latter, its managing director. They cover the subject with impressive thoroughness and pragmatism, conceding that the line between the hunt for justice and the one for financial growth can be difficult to discern and that the moral advocacy of some organizations should be construed “with a degree of skepticism.” One still wishes this central issue was considered at greater length and with less hyperbolic optimism. Nevertheless, this is an edifying study—and an engaging introduction to the subject.

A brief but wide-ranging primer on an increasingly hot topic.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61363-110-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Wharton School Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

Categories:
Close Quickview