Social corporate responsibility Bloomberg/Getty Images

Doing Well by Doing Good

In the years ahead, successful companies will take the lead in tackling the most urgent development challenges of our time – everything from poverty and disease to climate change. The trick is to identify solutions that address such challenges in ways that are profitable and sustainable in the long run – and then scale them up.

WASHINGTON, DC – Two years ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk decided to open access to his company’s patents to anyone – a move that ran completely counter to traditional competitive behavior. Why would a company give away its hard-earned designs and technology to its rivals?

Whatever one may think of Musk, his courage must be appreciated. He is rewriting the rules of business, based on the belief that Tesla’s success depends on that of the entire market for electric cars, and that his company’s commercial interests are inseparable from the interests of society.

Musk’s unconventional strategy could upend entire industries – for the benefit of all. If Tesla’s open patents succeed in bringing other players into the sector, it could transform what is now a niche product into a mass-market phenomenon – a transformation that would significantly advance the fight against climate change.

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