Forget the abstract – focus on the relevant, says research about CR practice

A recent study offers practical advice
to managers about the successful integration of Corporate
Responsibility (CR) into company-wide systems.

A research report by the UK-based Ashridge business
school highlights two buzz words for a successful
Corporate Responsiblity (CR) practice: relevance and
integration. CR is a general term referring to the role
of business in society and should be made tailored to the
activities of a company. It works best when it connects
with a company’s core business. The next step is the
integration of CR into company-wide management
systems. 

Integration, however, depends to a large extent on the
middle management who have an overall responsibility for
day to day operations. Middle managers are often
reluctant to welcome new initiatives and they may view CR
efforts as an ‘unwelcome distraction from their core
roles’. 

The study, entitled “Making Corporate
Responsibility Work: Lessons from Real Business”, is
based on interviews conducted with more than 60 managers
of 10 companies in the UK. It finds that companies,
including mobile phone company mmO2 and regional beer
company Adnams, are integrating CR through their
corporate governance practice, management systems and a
values-based approach. Convincing middle management
appears to be the major challenge for most
companies. 

Authors of the study underline that the abstract CR
terms are all too often of little practical value.
Focusing on the content, however, can create value. “An
organisation needs to look carefully at its own
situation, the business it operates in and what is
important to its various stakeholders. Successful
implementation of CR also involves recognising
uncertainty and the fact that new aspects and challenges
will unfold,” says Leon Olsen, author of the report, in a
press release. 

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