CSR & Innovation

If I’m right and CSR has tipped and is truly embedding itself on mainstream management thinking were do we go next? Milton Friedman would not be a happy bunny.

Now imagine a world where every company had a decent CSR track record (a big leap I know but just go with it for a while!). How would a company stand out in this crowd?

In any successful business innovation is built into the fabric of the operation. I was reading the Scandinavian take on this at CSR Driven Innovation again after losing track of the project for a while and it made me think this wasthe reason it was sticking, a few are already at that stage of developmental maturity. My own CSR journey was galvanised by David Grayson’s book, Corporate Social Opportunity. JJ Asongu also presented interesting arguments in his article on the Journal of Business and Public Policy.

It’s about using CSR as a source for innovation not a reactive handful of initiatives to merely passify stakeholders.

The line on thinking also reminded me that innovative CSR is not the sole territory of corporates. One of the biggest opportunities to CSR forward is to work with that other group of serial innovators – entrepreneurs. The next Google is already out there somewhere in a bedroom or a garage. Where will CSR be on their radar? More importantly what support will they get? That unfortunately is a big problem right now. I’ve seen a few individual eureka moments but we need more than one at a time.

Innovative CSR will be part of the future of business and a fantastic way to gain a serious competitive advantage, whatever the organisation’s size.

2 thoughts on “CSR & Innovation

  1. Dan Gray

    Great post, David. I, too, have been giving a lot of thought to CR as a potential source of brand and competitive advantage and would seem to be coming to very similar conclusions.

    Ultimately, it boils down to this: if all CR is is a tactical bolt-on to try and protect/enhance corporate reputation then it’s destined to become a hygiene factor.

    Competitive advantage will only come when sustainability is adopted as a fundamental design value – a lens through which to challenge and transform the business model, and to deliver new and innovative ways of creating stakeholder value.



  2. Jonathan Colombo

    Nice post David. I share your point of view that “CSR as a source for innovation not a reactive handful of initiatives to merely passify stakeholders”.

    That’s why I believe that norms should not be implemented to define sustainability practices. For me, norm has a negative connotation. When defined in a corporate environment, norms are usually perceived by employees as a formal rule against which individual’s behaviour is judged according to what was defined, as right or wrong by the “regulator”.

    Sustainability must be perceived a source innovation in business practices. However, such practice must not profit driven ethical orientation.

    Now our challenge, as CSR practitioners and thinkers, is to shoe that it is possivel to ethically pursuit profits!



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