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Kenan Institute 2022 Annual Theme: Stakeholder Capitalism
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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues

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Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and his family will transfer ownership of the company – valued at roughly $3 billion – to two newly created environmental trusts. In this Kenan Commentary, we ask four questions to determine how Chouinard’s move fits into the framework of the institute’s annual theme, stakeholder capitalism, and whether a better comparison is the laudable but more common idea of an altruistic business owner.

Mark Little, executive director of the Kenan Institute-affiliated center CREATE, provided expert testimony in a process that resulted in a May 11 settlement agreement regarding contracting and hiring practices for Dominion Energy’s $9.8 billion Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind renewable energy project.

London Business School Professor Alex Edmans, a 2022 Kenan Institute Distinguished Fellow, followed up his recent virtual presentation on “The Power of Purposeful Business” by answering key questions from the audience. This week’s Kenan Insight offers a curated Q&A with a few of our favorites, with Professor Edmans tackling topics such as which issues government is best equipped to regulate and which may require shareholders to step in, the limits of using data in ESG measurement, and how best to encourage purposeful thinking throughout an organization.

Stakeholder Capitalism

The explosive growth in ESG investing has created confusion among investors. As part of our yearlong series on stakeholder capitalism, we unpack what they should expect from ESG and try to reconcile it with both financial theory and empirical evidence. The bottom line is a bit complicated.

COVID-19 brought heightened focus to paid sick leave policies – a benefit to which roughly 25% of civilian workers don’t have access in the U.S. After sick leave mandates were temporarily implemented during the pandemic, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School researchers found employment increased, particularly among low-skilled workers and in industries that previously had little access to paid sick leave. In this week's Kenan Insight, our experts explore possible drivers behind this finding as well as potential policy and business implications.

Stakeholder Capitalism

A look at stakeholder capitalism – the idea that businesses would improve societal outcomes by focusing on a mandate broader than that which benefits shareholders alone – starts with the existing best-practice model: shareholder capitalism. This model, while not perfect, can produce the optimal amount of goods and services at the lowest cost. This week, Kenan Institute experts explore ways to improve it and examine whether stakeholder capitalism is ready to take its place.

The Biden administration's $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan comes with a hefty price tag, which the president hopes to pay in part by introducing a 15% minimum tax on corporate book income. Predictably, policymakers from both sides of the aisle are sounding off, but the argument is more complicated and nuanced than partisan rhetoric. In this Kenan Insight, we outline the intricacies and implications of taxing book income.

With more business leaders than ever before embracing stakeholder capitalism – or the belief that companies should work to benefit all stakeholders, not just shareholders – myriad questions have arisen about the concept’s viability and potential for impact. The Kenan Institute has been working to respond, and today we are excited to launch a new series exploring the most pressing issues surrounding stakeholder capitalism. Kicking off the series is this week’s Kenan Insight, which takes a deeper dive into the buzzed-about world of ESG investing. We hope you’ll check it out, and look forward to engaging with you on this topic and others throughout the series!

More than ever, businesses are tasked with pleasing both shareholders and stakeholders, including employees, customers and even communities. But can it be done? In this week's Kenan Insight, our experts explore the most successful strategies employed by a class of businesses that have been navigating this debate for generations: family firms.

The Biden administration's $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan comes with a hefty price tag, which the president hopes to pay in part by introducing a 15% minimum tax on corporate book income.  Predictably, policymakers from both sides of the aisle are sounding off, but the argument is more complicated and nuanced than partisan rhetoric. In this Kenan Insight, we outline the intricacies and implications of taxing book income.

Much has been written about the disproportionate number of women who have suffered pandemic-related job losses during COVID-19, but a related consequence has not been as well explored: the serious disruption of women’s careers, particularly in fields in which “path dependence” matters for success. In this Kenan Insight, we examine this more subtle asymmetry in the pandemic’s impact as indicative of far broader issues for women’s advancement in the workplace.

As long-standing leaders in sustainability, the Center for Sustainable Enterprise and the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise are proud to host the University of North Carolina Sustainability Awards. These awards recognize the leadership of North Carolina Business in protecting and promoting the state’s natural resources.