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