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Nice Guys Don't Finish Last

It's still unclear how much a company profits from doing good, but a new study of international executives shows it certainly doesn't hurt business

It is one of the biggest questions in corporate governance: Is there really any financial payoff for promoting enlightened social, environmental, and ethical practices? Or are companies that get the most attention for doing good merely those that can afford to do so?

An extensive survey of 1,254 international executives (half from the C-suite; 26% of them chief executive officers) by the Economist Intelligence Unit on corporate responsibility doesn't exactly answer this chicken-or-egg riddle. But it does reveal at least one interesting finding: The business community clearly believes that such a causal relationship exists. And that means the interest in social and environmental concerns is unlikely to abate soon.