Digital archive of theses discussed at the University of Pisa


Thesis etd-07012020-180123

Thesis type
Elaborati finali per laurea triennale
Thesis title
Creating Shared Value: the way to reimagine social change. How to make social problems a profitable business solution.
Course of study
relatore Prof.ssa Rigolini, Alessandra
  • Creating shared value
  • Social Responsibility
  • Inclusive capitalism
Graduation session start date
The purpose of the present work is to widen the debate and encourage future research about the contribution that companies can make to alleviate social problems that have never been as pressing as today. This is the essence of Creating Shared Value (CSV), a new and ground-breaking concept coined by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer (2011) who sparked a global movement to redefine the role of business in society around a simple but powerful idea: business success and social progress are interdependent.

My research has been divided into three chapters. The first one is about a brief literature review about the long and diverse history of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the primordial notion from which CSV started, going through the major contributors who have progressively drawn companies’ attention to their moral duty to society. However, CSR falls foul of an intrinsic philanthropic motif that is conventionally at odds with the generation of profit or any financial gain. Therefore, in order to overcome this strong criticism, CSV is presented as a new and flawless approach overcoming all the various limitations of CSR, in which finally social issues represent new business opportunities, not as costly problems to solve.
The second chapter is entirely dedicated to the Novartis case study to describe a practical application of the CSV model within a large corporation. Specifically, I analyse the project that Novartis embarked upon, called Arogya Parivar, a social program that offers effective, low-cost medications against infectious and chronic diseases that are prevalent in rural India. By the means of some strategic tools like the Pestle analysis, it might result quite arguable to embark upon an initiative like the one at consideration, as it targets a market that is going through a critical economic juncture and that is affected by political instability. However, it turns out to be a very strategic move when it comes to ‘democratizing healthcare’ at a profit, an objective that could significantly contribute to the prosperity of that social context and simultaneously lead the entire company to obtain a sustained competitive advantage. In the light of this, Novartis is presented as a starling example of a business implementing a CSV strategy that has been successfully co-creating sustainable financial and social value in India.
In the end, I conclude with a forward-looking vision on the future of businesses, which to me is based on the democratization of commerce through an ‘inclusive capitalism’ that makes sure that globalization will benefit all. There is an incredible value lying right at ‘the bottom of the pyramid’, which requires though a paradigm shift in the thinking process of the private sector: the poor need no longer to be seen as an intractable problem of capitalism, but as a viable market, a source of innovation and significant market capitalization.

In this view, Creating Shared Value represents the only opportunity to bring on the same track the success of a business and the welfare of the community. A company is a such a systemic entity in the context in which it takes action that pursuing adversarial objectives is something that does not benefit any of the parts involved. The business world does not only represent a source of labour supply or of provision of products and services, but also the fundamental engine for innovation and economic development that will unleash an enormous wave of growth for the entire planet.