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Theme: Doing Well By Doing Good


There are many ways to evaluate how well a firm is doing. Many of these are concerned (out of necessity) with the bottom line, focusing on stock prices and financial returns. But developments in other areas, such as the Balanced Scorecard, make it clear that there are multiple ways in which success can be gauged. Furthermore, any measure of success or performance must suffer from some degree of criterion deficiency, so that there are other indicators of performance that could be just as useful.

One such indication of performance is the extent to which a firm improves the lives of its members and its stakeholders. Some have referred to this as Social Entrepreneurship but, whatever the name used, it represents the recognition that there is more to corporate success than the financial bottom line. More importantly, there is no reason to believe that a firm which spends it energies trying to improve the world around it, will necessarily suffer for those efforts. In fact, there is evidence that firms which “do good” are often the same firms that “do well”. Furthermore, many of the “best practices” our colleagues from all parts of the Academy have suggested can lead to both financial success and social success. Thus there would seem to be micro, macro and international research topics that are consistent with these ideas.

Philadelphia represents the perfect setting for a meeting with this theme, because this city occupies a special place for our members from the United States. When the United States’ “founding fathers” declared their independence from Great Britain, they were clear to state that it was the role of government to allow for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” of its citizens. Those words were drafted just a few blocks from this year’s meeting site. So it is fitting to feature research that demonstrates how firms can be financially successful while, at the same time, trying to accomplish some positive social goals. The framers of the United States Declaration of Independence and Constitution, recognized that there were multiple goals to be served by government and that they were all important. This seems like a good time to remind ourselves of those ideas and to focus on research showing how modern organizations can make life better for its employees and the communities where they operate – and that they can do so without suffering financially.

Philadelphia is a wonderful city, with many historic sights, great ethnic neighborhoods, and those steps that Rocky ran up as he was training for his big fight with Apollo Creed.  It is also the perfect setting for the Academy meetings since it seems that the early leaders of the United States also anticipated the scholarship we do and the theme of this year’s meetings. You wonder why I say this? Let’s look at the preamble to the U.S. Constitution where it states the purpose of government, and notice how it relates directly to our research. Specifically, the U.S. Constitution states that the government was being founded in order to:

1. Form a more perfect union (benchmarking and continuous improvement)
2. Establish justice (distributive, procedural, and interactive)
3. Insure domestic tranquility (work/non-work interface)
4. Provide for the common defense (strategic alliances)
5. Promote the general welfare
6. Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity (increase shareholder wealth; avoid firm mortality)

This year’s theme builds upon last year’s theme linking management and the public concern, and is a logical extension of the new vision for management called for during our Honolulu conference.

Angelo DeNisi
2007 Program Chair

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