The awareness of the evolving role of CSR is becoming increasingly prevalent within the business world, and it is encouraging companies to innovate new ways to operate business and manage stakeholder relationships from recognising the democratised power relations in society and generating the motivation to benefit both their business and society at large.
The discourse of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has evolved since the 1970s from a priori focus on corporate financial performance to a more holistic view emphasising the interconnectedness between an organisation and its social, cultural, environmental and political context. The awareness of the evolving role of CSR is becoming increasingly prevalent within the business world, and it is encouraging companies to innovate new ways to operate business and manage stakeholder relationships from recognising the democratised power relations in society and generating the motivation to benefit both their business and society at large.
Companies have become increasingly aware that the sustainable development and competitive competence of their organisation rely on effective integration of CSR into both strategy and organisational culture, as well as its implementation in collaborations with diverse stakeholders. The key element for a successful open collaboration lies in an understanding of the emerging discourse of CSR where power relations are increasingly diffused among actors from across boundaries.
It is therefore important to consider shared value in stakeholder relationships, contextual thinking and, in particular, an organisational environment which supports complex collaboration processes. These factors together form groundwork from which responsible leadership arises.
In order to develop responsible leadership, a company will need a visionary attitude that encourages and inspires them to take risks. Alongside this, it must remain open to change by proactively engaging the organisations and individuals who challenge their business in varied social, cultural, economic and even political terms.The company must interact with these individuals in open, collaborative processes and transform the actors with negative perceptions into constructive resources for meaningful change. A CSR partnership based on open collaboration is a significant innovation opportunity for developing responsible leadership through CSR.
A combined effort will be necessary for a company to make meaningful changes in their value system. For these open and collaborative process to take hold, CSR must be embedded in the right legal framework as a regulated practice in business rather than merely ideals. Accordingly, the media will need to enable and nurture the communication and expression of emergent social attitudes towards CSR. This change in the public perception of CSR will doubtless compel a company’s senior management to consider it critical for sustainable business growth. Senior management will have to prepare for risks of compromising short-term financial goals in order to achieve long-term sustainable development of their organisation.
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