Double and Triple Bottom Lines – P’shaw!

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June 14, 2011; Source: New York Times | The New York Times today reported in its business section that a new paper by Daniel Altman and Jonathan Bergman of Dalberg Global Development Advisors is advocating a return to the single bottom line for corporations (PDF). According to the Times, the paper asserts that double and triple bottom lines are distractions from the core business, which according to the paper’s authors often produces more social good than charitable activities. This position is, of course, not unfamiliar.

Altman and Berman do say that in order for their hypothesis regarding the great ripple benefits to communities from big business to be true, companies must work for long-term sustainable – rather than flash in the pan – success, measured quarterly. The paper cites a few examples of companies that have, in their opinion, taken that more long-term approach – including Exxon. The paper is being published by the Stern School of Business.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Benjamin Shute

    Old wine in old bottles!

  • Geri Stengel

    I read that article as well, with a sense of wonderment and dismay. What an odd view of community benefit. If you do one thing sort of okay, all egregious sins are ignored? ExxonMobile is cited for doing good for the community by incorporating safety into its exploration? Isn

  • Jerry Talley

    This line of thinking is so flawed it’s almost laughable, except for the victims of corporate greed rationalized by the “profit motive”. The victims of Massey Mining company are the inevitable consequences of a company with eyes for one a single bottom line. Banks feel free to auto-sign documents for foreclosure because it feeds the bottom line. Fraking is great for the bottom line but it wipes out entire communities. As long as corporations are required to focus on only one metric of success, they will continue to kill people, decimate ecologies, and undermine communities. Being profitable is a requirement to do business, but it is NOT the purpose of doing business. Companies need to reconnect to the value they bring to the marketplace, not just the value they can extract from it.