Cover of Companies on a Mission by Michael V. Russo Foreword by L. Hunter Lovins
Companies on a Mission
Entrepreneurial Strategies for Growing Sustainably, Responsibly, and Profitably
Michael V. Russo Foreword by L. Hunter Lovins


272 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804761628
Ebook ISBN: 9780804774284

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Excerpts and More

Winner of the 2010 ONE Book Award, sponsored by the Organizations and the Natural Environment Division of the Academy of Management.

Silver Award in the 2011 Nautilus Book Awards.

"Let your social and environmental conscience be your guide" can be a successful and durable strategy for a firm. This is the first book to explain how following a vision for the earth and for society can be a powerful route to profits for small and medium sized companies.

Companies on a Mission explains that mission-driven companies appreciate and leverage traditional strategic principles—with a twist—to win in the marketplace. By clearly and pragmatically laying out this argument, author Michael V. Russo crystallizes for enlightened businesses what Michael Porter made clear for mainstream firms years ago. The book shows that a mission-driven approach creates significant barriers to imitation by larger, established rivals. Mission-driven firms build their brands on authenticity. Only you are you. And, authenticity builds customer loyalty. Later in the book, Russo moves beyond the firm level to look at these companies in context. He finds, for instance, that just as specific industries often develop in geographic clusters, mission-driven companies also aggregate. But, they put down roots where other businesses are pursuing complementary goals. Portland and the Bay Area are two such hotbeds. This allows for cooperation, as opposed to breeding stiff competition.

The rise to prominence of mission-driven companies like Patagonia, Seventh Generation, Kettle Foods, and Calvert Group is undoubtedly the result of powerful trends in consumer markets, including the rise of conscious consumerism, the transparency movement, and fallout from global competition. Most books that address social and environmental issues are focused on large corporations, crafted as autobiographies by CEOs, or written as moral calls to action without regard for the bottom line. Companies on a Mission both chronicles a movement and provides grounded guidance to entrepreneurs and managers who wish to join the wave. For these readers, this book is a one-of-a-kind bible.

About the authors

Michael Russo is the Charles H. Lundquist Professor of Sustainable Management at the University of Oregon. He is an award-winning researcher focusing on strategies for social impact and environmental management. He is editor of Environmental Management: Readings and Cases, 2nd edition (Sage, 2008).

"A well-written and informative business book that provides valuable tips and background for anyone interested in starting up or managing a socially conscious company. Recommended for all business collections."

Library Journal

"Companies on a Mission brings academic rigor to the age-old notion of 'going well by doing good.' Mission-driven companies succeed, as Mike Russo makes crystal clear in this compelling book, not just because their missions make them greener, but because they make them better. They create quality products, garner a fanatical following, and engender innovation, passion, and fun for employees and customers alike. What could be a better model for business?"

—Joel Makower, Executive Editor,, and author, Strategies for the Green Economy

"A highly informative and extremely well-written analysis of the creation and growth of ecologically and socially minded firms. What makes Russo's book particularly valuable is his balanced assessment of both the opportunities and the risks that enterprises face in trying to combine social and environmental accountability and survival in the marketplace. While focusing on small firms, the lessons it offers are relevant to all businesses seeking to position themselves and their products as eco-friendly and/or socially responsible."

—David Vogel, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

"Mission-driven companies continue to grow in number and are moving from a small niche into the mainstream. The time is right for an analysis of these firms and their approaches to business. In Companies on a Mission, Michael Russo documents both the direct economic benefits of taking a mission-driven approach and the intangible benefits of brand value, product positioning, customer satisfaction, and more. Full of stories about well- and lesser-known companies, this book will give any business reader—from entrepreneurs to managers in big corporations—take-away points to transform their businesses into profitable, mission-driven enterprises."

—Andrew Winston, author of Green Recovery and co-author of Green to Gold

"True innovation comes from the fringes—from smaller players running rings around incumbents. After focusing for decades on corporate Goliaths, we need to investigate and support entrepreneurial Davids. Russo shows how mission-driven companies think, act, and cluster—and, critically, explains how we can help them jump to the next level."

—John Elkington, co-founder and Executive Chairman of Volans Ventures, co-founder of Environmental Data Services and SustainAbility, and co-author

of The Power of Unreasonable People