Better World Books Case Study

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Better World Books: Social Entrepreneurship and the Triple Bottom Line

Background: Better World Books

Better World Books (BWB) was founded in 2002 as a B corporation, meaning it targets successful performance in three fundamental areas: financial, social, and environmental endeavors. BWB has grown successfully since its creation as a small, socially motivated firm to one of the larger, more successful corporations of its kind. Despite the impressive and inspiring performance and growth through creative expansions, BWB acknowledges the changing conditions of the used book marketplace and is pleased to outline a brief review of current strategy and recommendations for supporting operations moving forward.

BWB Current Vision: Better World Books collects and sells books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. BWB is a self-sustaining, triple-bottom-line company that creates social, economic, and environmental value for all our stakeholders (www.betterworldbooks.com). Criticisms of the current vision statement have been expressed as follows: BWB relies on the generosity of donors for its primary product, which seems to contradict the concept of “self-sustaining.” Either additional clarification about what “self-sustaining” means to BWB or a different descriptor should be included in the vision statement. The nature of BWB’s work demands a vision that is motivating, forward-looking, and broad enough to incorporate contributions from its employees and business partners.

BWB Current Mission Statement: Better World Books is a global bookstore that harnesses the power of capitalism to bring literacy and opportunity to people around the world (www.betterworldbooks.com). Criticisms of the current mission statement have been expressed as follows: The term ‘bookstore’ is associated with the sale of new books, often in terms of today’s major book retailers, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble. It is suggested that BWB put more emphasis on its reuse and recycle format, specifically including their mission of re-selling used books. BWB should incorporate into its mission statement the focus on the reduction of waste by recycling books that are no longer desired by the current owner. With the commitment to its triple bottom line, BWB should make all three pillars integral to its mission.

BWB Current Core Values: A complete list of BWB’s Core Values are shown in Appendix A (www.betterworldbooks.com). Core Values should be descriptive of the organization, serving as a guide to employee behavior and reflective of how the organization operates. Criticisms of the current core values include the number of values, and the overlapping on several of the values. Flippant terms like “flabbergast” and “quicktastic” may unintentionally send a casual, unprofessional message about the organization. In support of BWB’s values, the company has set forth ideals that help employees, partners, and investors understand how it will go about meeting its vision.
Vision, Mission, & Values: Forming Strategic Intent
“Aggressively adhering to one’s values can also help a company make strategic decisions,” which is certainly key for BWB (Lencioni, 2012, p.116). BWB’s values are solid and quite applicable to the company at the moment. Using the refined vision, mission, and value statements will help BWB stay on course to be a premiere social company, rather than allowing the focus to drift or become diluted by multiple unrelated endeavors.

BWB Triple Bottom Line: Methods and Sustainability
The BWB triple bottom line is comprised of its financial, social, and environmental performance. One of the guidelines of BWB being set up as a “B corporation” is to create transparency of its company financials. Currently, financial performance for BWB shares revenues, but omits detailed information regarding profit and how that profit is split between the company and the charities it supports. It would be beneficial for BWB...
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