A lot is being written about purpose and both CEO and corporate activism, but which sources matter the most? This reading list is designed to help you separate the wheat from the chaff.
In what follows, I offer a list of high quality primary and secondary sources on purpose, CEO activism and corporate activism. For each topic, I list recommended books, media (magazine and newspaper articles), academic and non-academic research, and finally a catch-all “other sources” section.
All perspectives, from people who represent the purpose “movement” to cynical voices on the political left to dissenters on the political right are represented. For the moment, the sources are not annotated, but almost all titles give a sufficient glimpse into what can be expected.
I will continue to update this reading list and expand on it. If you have published on any of these topics and think your publication should be listed, drop me an email.
- Brands on a Mission by Myriam Sidibé, Routledge, 2020.
- The Hero Trap by Thomas Kolster, Routledge, 2020.
- The Purpose Advantage by Jeff Fromm, Vicara Books, 2019.
- The Purpose Economy by Aaron Hurst, self-published, 2019.
- The Compass and the Nail by Craig Wilson, Rare Bird Books, 2018. [reviewed in The Wall Street Journal]
- The Guiding Purpose Strategy by Markus Kramer and Tofig Husein-zadeh, Clink Street Publishing, 2017.
- Purpose, Incorporated: turning cause into your competitive advantage by John Wood and Amalia McGibbon, Big Purpose Press, 2017.
- The COVID-19 pandemic is sparking an era of ‘smart generosity’ by Carol Cone and Kristin Kenney, Fast Company, 2020.
- Big business is beginning to accept broader social responsibilities, The Economist, 2019.
- Big business has a new scam: the “purpose paradigm” by Maria Hengeveld, The Nation, 2019
- Creating a purpose-driven organization by Robert E. Quinn and Anjan V. Thakor, Harvard Business Review, 2018.
- Welcome to the purpose economy by Aaron Hurst, Fast Company, 2014.
- Three myths about what customers want by Karen Freeman, Patrick Spenner and Anna Bird, Harvard Business Review, 2012.
- Good guys can finish first: How brand reputation affects extension evaluations by Zachary Johnson, Sarah Lefebvre, Huifang Mao and Jaishankar Ganesh, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2019.
- Selling products by selling brand purpose by Chung-Kue Hsu, Journal of Brand Strategy, 2017.
- Branding: from purpose to beneficence by Philip Kotler, The Marketing Journal, 2016.
- The business case for purpose by Ernst & Young, Harvard Business Press, 2015.
- The Global Millennial Survey by Deloitte, 2019.
- Global Human Capital Trends by Deloitte, 2018.
- The U.S. Monitor study by Kantar, 2017.
- Letter to CEOs by Larry Fink, BlackRock, 2019.
On Corporate / CEO activism
- Trailblazer by Marc Benioff, Currency, 2019.
- The beauty industry profits off black women. Now black women are fighting for accountability by Cheryl Wischhover, VOX, 2020.
- Consumers don’t care about corporate solidarity. They want donations by Terry Nguyen, VOX, 2020.
- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Swears He Is “Not an Activist”, Fortune, 2019.
- The new CEO activists by Aaron Chatterji and Michael W. Toffel, Harvard Business Review, 2018.
- Corporate activism: the new challenge for an age-old question by Melissa Dodd, Institute for PR, 2016.
- Brands take a stand: when speaking up about controversial issues hurts or helps business by Melissa Dodd, Forbes, 2015.
- Corporate activism yesterday, today and tomorrow by Jessica Love, Kellogg Insight, 2014.
- Corporate activism reader by Ana Adi (ed.), Quadriga University, 2019.
- When CEO sociopolitical activism attracts new talents: exploring the conditions under which CEO activism increases job pursuit intentions, SSRN, 2019.
- The double-edged sword of CEO activism by David F. Larcker, Stephen A. Miles, Brian Tayan, Kim Wright-Violich, Stanford Closer Look Series, 2018.
- The Complicated Business of Mixing Brand and Politics [Survey] by Frank Strong, 2019.
- CEOs speaking out on social media survey, Brandfog and McPherson Strategies, 2019.
- Five acts of corporate advocacy, APCO, 2019.
- Edelman Trust Barometer: expectations for CEOs by Edelman, 2018.
- CEO activism in 2018: the purposeful CEO by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, 2018.
- CEO activism in 2017: High Noon in the C-Suite by Weber Shandwick, 2017.
- CSR Study by Cone Communications, 2017.
- Business & Politics: Do They Mix? by Global Strategy Group, 2016.
- The dawn of CEO activism by Weber Shandwick, 2016.
Did you enjoy this piece on corporate activism?
You might also like our article on five questions businesses should ask themselves before they rally behind a cause.
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