The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Strategic CSR - CSR in 2010

The article in the url below provides an overview of the major CSR stories in 2010.

Issues covered range from the BP Gulf oil spill, to the launch of ISO26000 (Case-study: ISO26000, p305), to the expansion of Marks & Spencer’s Plan A (Case-study: Primark versus Marks & Spencer, p198), to the release of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb) study.

In terms of both its breadth (range of issues and firms covered) and depth (facts and figures), the article is a very good summary of the past 12 months in CSR.

Have a good weekend.

Instructor Teaching Site:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:

2010: A Year Dominated by Macro Trends
Rajesh Chhabara
December 3, 2010
Ethical Corporate Magazine

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Strategic CSR - Bribery

The article in the url below reports on the Bribery Act, new legislation that is due to be introduced in the UK in April. The legislation is similar to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in the U.S., but, in key areas, goes further:

The Bribery Act covers any company that conducts business in Britain, regardless of where the company is based. It goes beyond the FCPA by not just prohibiting illicit payments to foreign officials, but also bribes between private businessmen. It applies even if the individual who makes the payment doesn't realize the transaction was a bribe, legal experts say.

The Bribery Act, which is described in the article as “the FCPA on steroids,” consolidates various UK rules and policies concerning bribery, while also extending the reach of government oversight and the possible punishments for transgressions:

[It] boosts the maximum penalty for bribery to 10 years in prison from seven, and sets no limits on fines.

The Act also bans “grease payments” (“small bribes common in some countries to get mail service, phone hook-ups or other services that otherwise would be delayed”) that are permitted under the FCPA, as long as they are declared.

The UK legislation appears as the U.S. government is increasing FCPA prosecutions (in terms of both number and penalties), while China and other European countries are also increasingly monitoring their firms’ activities on this issue. The recent clause of the Dodd-Frank Act in the U.S. providing financial incentives for whistleblowers to report bribery carries the potential to alter the landscape for firms regarding bribery and heightens the need to increase their compliance programs to ensure they are protected.

Take care

Instructor Teaching Site:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:

U.K. Law On Bribes Has Firms In a Sweat
By Dionne Searcey
951 words
28 December 2010
The Wall Street Journal

Monday, January 24, 2011

Strategic CSR - Pepsi

I recently noticed a regular column that appears in the FT on Thursdays titled “The Case Study.” It presents a brief analysis of a problem facing a firm and the solution that it came up with to resolve the problem. Sometimes the problems are related to CSR, but most of the time they are not.

The case in the url below focused on Pepsi’s decision to pursue a more environmentally friendly bottle for its drinks. Thinner bottles use less plastic (reducing waste and raw materials) and lighter bottles are easier to transport (reducing carbon emissions). The case states that the project was pursued by a senior engineer within Pepsi, Rajendra Gursahaney, and was far from straightforward:

The idea would either revolutionise the bottling industry or cost his company millions of dollars in delays.

The difficulty arises because plastic bottles require a minimum amount of rigidity to retain their shape during the production process:

Non-carbonated drinks are vulnerable to bacteria if they are not bottled properly. So, most companies heat beverages to a temperature that destroys micro-organisms. The hot liquid is then poured into a bottle until it is full, destroying any bacteria on its inner wall. Bottlers must use a thick plastic that will not deform, which means it is expensive, heavy and has a big environmental footprint.

It is when the liquid cools that the potential for deformity occurs and a thinner bottle increases this risk. The proposed solution was to add nitrogen (a gas that does not harm either the product or consumer) during production. As the gas expands, Gursahaney reasoned, it would counteract the cooling of the liquid to retain the bottle’s shape:

The difficulty was that nitrogen could not be added to a hot drink, as it would instantly vaporise and the fluid would bubble out.

Read the article to find out how the team at Pepsi overcame the problem, gradually refining the process until quality control reached an acceptable success rate. The solution was a result of the team of six working for over a year in the laboratory. The outcome for Pepsi and the environment was significant:

A traditional 1.5 litre bottle weighs 63g; Guru's bottle weighed only 48g. Pepsi forecasts $7.5m in annual plastics savings in Russia alone.

Importantly, to ensure the broadest application of this technology and secure the greatest environmental benefit:

Pepsi has chosen not to patent this idea, but instead is willing to share the technology with other companies.

Take care

Instructor Teaching Site:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:

The case study: Creating a lighter plastic bottle; Pepsi Beverages Company
Elton, Chester Gostick, Adrian
795 words
4 November 2010
Financial Times

Friday, January 21, 2011

Strategic CSR - Welcome back!

Welcome back to the Strategic CSR Newsletter!
The first Newsletter of the Spring semester is below.
I will be traveling quite a bit this semester, so apologies in advance for any disruption to service. I will try and keep the Newsletters as regular as possible.
As always, your comments and ideas are welcome at any time.

The article in the url below, which appeared towards the end of December, focuses on firms’ PR management of the most prominent business crises in 2010. While the crises were a surprise to the general public, a common theme, in retrospect, is that the root causes were embedded in dysfunctional aspects of operations within each of the firms. Another common factor was mistakes by the firms in responding to the issues that served to exacerbate the negative reaction. In the case of Apple’s slow response to hardware problems with the iPhone 4, for example, the article advises:

Always listen to your customer -- and if they are telling you something, say 'thank you' and offer to remediate the problem immediately. … Apple tried to minimize the problem, which is always a mistake.

What seems clear is that each of the firms lacked a broad stakeholder approach to the problems it faced. While the firms focused on what they thought were key stakeholders (i.e., investors), they failed to appreciate the reaction of other stakeholders who turned out to be equally important in rectifying the problem (e.g., the government and consumers). While both BP (Gulf oil spill) and Toyota (product re-call) underestimated the role of regulatory authorities (in particular, the interaction between general public reaction and politicians’ willingness to act), for example, Apple (“Antennagate”) and Facebook (user privacy) failed to appreciate the central concerns of consumers. The cost of these misjudgments was often significant:

A study by Interbrand, a branding firm owned by Omnicom Group Inc. that tracks and publishes the top 100 global brands every year, found that the BP brand fell off its top-100 global brand list this year. The oil company had been on the list for nine years, and ranked as the 83rd most valuable brand last year. … Interbrand found that Toyota's brand value fell 16% this year because of the recall. The car maker had been the eighth largest brand in the world in 2009 but slipped to No. 11 this year. Interbrand's metric takes into account the company's financial condition, third party consumer polling data and its specialists' opinions.

Happy New Year!

Instructor Teaching Site:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:

The Year of Crisis Management: Public Relations Learned the Hard Way
By Suzanne Vranica
2020 words
30 December 2010
The Wall Street Journal