Digging Deeper

How Purpose-Driven Enterprises Create Real Value

What is the primary purpose of business? The standard answer is ‘making profits,’ but some visionary entrepreneurs and leaders fundamentally disagree. Instead of just making money, they choose instead to “dig deeper” and make a difference through creating real value – improving the lives of others even as they find deeper meaning in their own. These leaders build enterprises that provide identity and a sense of purpose, create positive relationships and a place to learn and thrive, embed sustainability in all that they do, and strive to improve the quality of life of all of their stakeholders. Although not their primary focus, they also make healthy profits, as their unique approach to value creation provides them with a sustainable competitive edge.

Digging Deeper is a book full of inspiring stories that illustrate that there is an alternative to a myopic and narrow capitalism that trades in inequalities, exploitation, collective burnout and negative consequences for our shared natural environment. Remarkable examples from all over the world vividly demonstrate how enterprises can create real value through focusing on what the authors call the 6 Ls: long-term orientation, lasting relationships, local roots, limits recognition, developing a learning community and taking leadership responsibility seriously in its very best sense.

Digging Deeper liberates the term “value” from the tight chains in which the global financial community has bound it and demonstrates that businesses can contribute to a better life for all ‒ if their leaders can go beyond viewing enterprises as single-purpose money-making machines and develop purpose-driven enterprises that create real value for all.

Digging Deeper reveals the basic principles of how enterprises that create real value operate and why they are successful. It is a book that, unlike others in this sphere, unearths the roots of real value creation. The reader will recognize how six qualities, neatly arranged in an easily understandable “6L”-framework (long-term orientation, lasting relationships, local roots, limits recognition, learning community and leadership responsibility), interact and contribute to building enterprises that create both societal value and sustainable profits for their owners.

In Digging Deeper, readers meet many “practical idealists” who have been guided by their ideals to create enterprises that make a positive difference in the world. Readers will be inspired by their stories to become part of the change that they would like to see in the business world.

CEEMAN News, Winter 2016, Issue 82 on 1 Dec 2016

Unthinkable: How do we distinguish good businesses from evil?

What makes a good business? Presumably it must survive; it must be profitable enough to pay its staff a decent wage and to honour its trade agreements. But beyond that there is very little debate, let alone consensus, on what distinguishes a commendable or worthwhile company from a bad one.

Google’s corporate mission statement is “Don’t be evil”, but against what measure can we establish whether it is meeting its promise?

Step forward Finbarr Bradley, a lecturer in business and management who has developed, with colleagues Dietmar Sternad and James Kennelly, a model for identifying “deep purpose enterprises”.

In their book, Digging Deeper, they profile a number of businesses which create “real value” rather than pursuing short-term profit. Real value, they say, means satisfying “our deepest human needs through providing meaning and identity and a higher quality of life for owners, employees, customers, partners and the community alike while renewing the health of our planet”.


The Irish Times on 30 Nov 2016 Joe Humphreys

A shift is taking place in the narrative about the role of business – from a profit-maximization, shareholder supremacy orientation to a commitment to a deeper purpose, one that resonates with a broad array of stakeholders, producing multifaceted value well beyond financial returns and profit, creating true meaning in our lives. Digging Deeper aptly captures this transformation, with myriad inspirational examples that captivate the reader, providing insight into how businesses can develop deeper roots – with a long-term orientation, lasting relationships, a strong local presence, commitment to a learning community, and leadership focused on creating a better life for all stakeholders. As the authors convincingly argue, the resulting real value – for companies, communities, society, and the environment – can take us from purpose to prosperity. 

Anthony F. Buono, Professor of Management & Sociology, Bentley University

In the Anthropocene when human organizations and activities are the biggest source of changes in nature, we need to conceptualize successful organizations creating enduring value with purpose through cooperation, with long-term orientation, and grounding in place. Digging Deeper digs deep and wide, to tell the much-needed stories of just such organizations. A must-read book for managers and students of management.

Paul Shrivastava, Executive Director, Future Earth and David O’Brien Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Enterprise, John Molson School of Business, Concordia University

These inspiring stories show why a paradigm shift is needed in how we educate future business leaders. This book provides compelling arguments for why companies that create real value should be values-driven, putting purpose and integrity at the heart, not the margin. 

Rosa Chun, Professor of Global Leadership, Reputation & Responsibility, University College Dublin

Business should not just be about making money. But where are the examples that show me what business should be? They are all gathered in this book. Like a documentary, it tracks down some of the most fascinating and unusual species out there in the business world. Companies that have a purpose, thrive based on principles, and make money in ways that lift others up. They really exist, and learning about those companies is a great eye-opener. The book supplies fascinating topics for discussion, deep inspiration for business people, and hope for everyone. A beautiful and important book!

Julian Kölbel, Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT Sloan School of Management

The authors of Digging Deeper describe writing the book as a "wonderful journey". Reading Digging Deeper enables you to embark on that journey to all the fascinating places described, including the Benedictine monastery of Admont in the Austrian Alps, Mondragón in the Basque region of Spain, or the island Inis Meáin off the west coast of Ireland. Along with encountering inspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders portrayed in the book, the readers also embark on a journey to the spiritual backbone of sustainable business.


Katharina Spraul, Professor of Sustainability Management, University of Kaiserslautern (Germany)

Digging Deeper will challenge your assumptions, lift your spirits, and leave you wondering why purpose-driven enterprises are not the subject of greater praise—and emulation.  . . . Any scholarly book can be judged by the extent to which it elicits more ideas, conjecture, and debates than it puts to rest. I am happy to report that based on this criteria, Digging Deeper is an outstanding book!

Extract from the Foreword.

Michael V. Russo, Professor of Sustainable Management, University of Oregon

DIETMAR STERNAD is Professor of International Management at Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Villach, Austria. JAMES J. KENNELLY is Professor of International Business & Management, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, USA. FINBARR BRADLEY is a former professor who teaches at the Smurfit Graduate Business School, University College Dublin, Ireland.

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