Small Actions, Big Difference: Leveraging Corporate Sustainability to Drive Firm and Societal Value, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Small Actions, Big Difference

Leveraging Corporate Sustainability to Drive Firm and Societal Value, 1st Edition

By CB Bhattacharya


208 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-10-11
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Despite dire warnings about global warming, carbon emissions by the world’s largest companies are increasing and only a few companies have strategies for managing carbon emissions and water resources.

So what separates the best from the rest? In one word, the answer is ownership: companies that are winning at sustainability have created the conditions for their stakeholders to own sustainability and reap the benefits that come with deeper experience with and ownership of social and environmental issues: a happier, more productive workforce, increased customer loyalty, higher stock valuations, and greater long-term profits.

Based on interviews with 25 global multi-national corporations as well as employees, middle managers, and senior leaders across multiple sectors, this is the first book to connect sustainability to the theory and principles of psychological ownership and to propose a succinct, easy-to-digest model for managerial use.


"Everywhere we turn, we hear the word ’sustainability.’ But what are companies actually doing? CB Bhattacharya’s honest and bracing answer is simple: Not enough. But in this smart, actionable book, he shows how companies can change their ways. By making sustainability central to your purpose, he says, you can improve the health of communities and the planet — and build a better, more profitable business. SMALL ACTIONS, BIG DIFFERENCE belongs on every leader’s bookshelf."

Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of WHEN and DRIVE

"When the world finally makes the turn to sustainable development, it will have been pioneers such as Professor CB Bhattacharya who will have made the difference. Professor Bhattacharya has long understood that sustainable development – combining economic progress with social inclusion and environmental sustainability – is not a gimmick or a pleasantry, but a vital need for the planet and therefore for each of us. He continues his great efforts in this new and important book, a very wise and clearly written guidebook to sustainability for business leaders."

Jeffrey Sachs, New York Times Bestselling Author, University Professor, Columbia University

"CB Bhattacharya’s book Small Actions, Big Difference is a powerful rallying cry for business to take full ownership of delivering sustainable and equitable growth. As this book argues, business must re-double its efforts through new thinking and a values-based approach that puts people and the planet first."

Paul Polman, CEO Unilever, 2009-2018

"The title and the cover picture of this book are a perfect synthesis of the book itself. Sustainability is often the sum of many apparently obvious thoughts and simple actions, resulting in powerful and large positive impact on mankind. A fascinating discovery for the reader and a powerful call to action."

Francesco Starace, CEO, Enel

"There’s lots said about the ‘why’ of sustainable business much less about the ‘how’ and that’s what CB does here so effectively and succinctly, distil the theory into tough, practical action that’s needed to make sustainable change stick!"

Mike Barry, Chief Sustainability Officer, Marks and Spencer

"In Small Actions, Big Difference, Professor Bhattacharya cogently brings to focus the inherent conflict between short-term goals and long term deliberate corporate action around Sustainability. He challenges the somewhat myopic view of organizational success, compelling readers to re-think the very Purpose of business itself. Extremely well researched and honest, CB's articulation is persuasive and relatable. He moves away from the usual finger pointing and takes the bold stance of linking Profits to Sustainability. He thus elevates Sustainability to the top of the agenda; making it everybody’s day job, including and especially that of the Leadership."

Vipin Sondhi, CEO, JCB India

"This book is an urgent, clear-eyed and eminently implementable clarion call to companies the world over to make a palpable and meaningful contribution to the battle against the environmental and social ills that threaten to destroy our planet and its inhabitants. Bhattacharya’s research into the barriers companies face in being sustainable, rather than simply saying or wishing they are, is incisive both in breadth and depth. The framework Bhattacharya builds based on his insights to get every employee to take ownership of sustainability is sensible, practical and ultimately essential if companies are to truly transform themselves into stewards of the environment and society. Essential reading for anyone in the business world who wants to go beyond good sustainability intentions to actually making a real difference."

Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor, Greenbiz Group Inc.

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: From Bystanders to Owners

1. The Unsustainability of Sustainability

2. Why Ownership is the Answer

Part 2: Incubate

3. Contour

4. Concretize

Part 3: Launch

5. Entice 6. Enable

Part: 4: Embed

7. Demystify

8. Enliven

9. Expand

10. Conclusion

About the Author

CB Bhattacharya is the H.J. Zoffer Chair in Sustainability and Ethics at the Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh. He is a world-renowned expert in business strategy innovation aimed at increasing both business and social value and is the co-author of the book Leveraging Corporate Responsibility: The Stakeholder Route to Maximizing Business and Social Value and co-editor of the book Global Challenges in Responsible Business.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Business Ethics