Corporate social responsibility (CSR) remains a debated topic, but one which has seen a shift in focus. The old debate rested on a moral notion of CSR, and assumed that companies faced an inherent conflict in balancing the pursuit of commercial success with contributing to the goals of society and the communities in which they operate.
In a book published by Victoria University of Wellington's Institute of Policy Studies, MDL’s Principal Consultant Adrienne von Tunzelmann explores CSR from a business perspective, based on contemporary international thinking on corporate strategy and management, and the practices of companies in New Zealand. The book, Social Responsibility and the Company: A New Perspective on Governance, Strategy and the Community, presents a framework which focuses on value creation, pulling together corporate purpose, corporate governance and corporate strategy. This is a framework that helps to satisfy the apparent contradictions between social responsibility and the fiduciary responsibilities of those who manage the company, seeing social responsibility as one of the range of strategies and capabilities that supports the economic purpose of the company. It encompasses the management of regulatory risk, the preservation of the company’s licence to operate and expanding the company’s degrees of freedom. Email Adrienne for more.
MDL’s approach to, and expertise in, CSR is around the strategic imperative of seeking to influence, and actively manage, the future environment of the business. It is also grounded in the practical benefits of active social engagement: deepening management skills for negotiating stakeholder relationships that might impact on company goals; acquiring the experience and knowledge to know what actions the company should prudently take in the community or wider public arena to secure mutually acceptable outcomes from investment or operational decisions, and minimise costs; and building reputation and trust in the public and political arena such as to avert pressures for new restrictive regulation.
In a related project, a team from MDL and AUT University’s Institute of Public Policy, funded by the Tindall Foundation, carried out a study of cross-sector collaboration between business and community organisations. The purpose was to identify models of partnering for building capacity and capability in the NGO sector. The published report, Business Social Investment Activity in New Zealand, is action-oriented and presents a number of innovative case studies. Contact us for a printed copy.