Presidential pages

UND leader hands over signed copy of new book to Special Collections Department

Stephanie Walker. Mark Kennedy

UND Dean of Libraries Stephanie Walker looks on as UND President Mark Kennedy signs a copy of his book, “Shapeholders: Business Success in the Age of Activism,” for the library’s Special Collections. Photo courtesy of Brian Baier.

University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy recently signed and delivered a copy of his new book, “Shapeholders: Business Success in the Age of Activism,” for the Chester Fritz Library’s Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections.

Special Collections keeps copies – signed if at all possible – of all books written by UND faculty, students, staff and alumni.  Getting a book written by a sitting President is especially exciting, said Library Dean Stephanie Walker.

The President’s book zeroes in on how political, regulatory, media and activists can shape – or shift – business practices.

The “shapeholders” term was coined by Kennedy’s son, Charles.

“The main point of the book, which was released on May 9, is that you have stakeholders, shareholders and shapeholders,” Kennedy said. “Shapeholders are different than stakeholders or shareholders. They are the politicians, media and activists who can shape a firm’s opportunities and risk, even though they have no stake in an organization’s success.”

For example, Kennedy said, employers and suppliers can push companies to change, but there are limits to how far they can go because they have a stake in the success of those organizations. Activists, who often don’t have stake in a company, can cause conflict. As Kennedy observed, “the only stake an environmental activist may want in a coal company is a stake through its corporate heart, yet that activist can still shape the opportunities and risks of a coal company.”

“Companies are often out of their element when talking to shapeholders, resulting in more conflict,” said Kennedy. His book discusses engaging shapeholders in the long term to both advance business and benefit society.