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

To sign-up to receive the CSR Newsletters regularly during the fall and spring academic semesters, e-mail author David Chandler at david.chandler@ucdenver.edu


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Strategic CSR - VW

I am sure you have all been following the unfolding drama at VW. Rather than focus on the firm alone, however, the article in the url below highlights the track-record of the whole industry in terms of regulatory compliance. By any measure that most of us care about, that record is not good:
 
"Long before Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emissions tests for millions of cars worldwide, the automobile industry, Volkswagen included, had a well-known record of sidestepping regulation and even duping regulators."
 
The duplicitous behavior remains prevalent in Europe, for example:
 
"For decades, car companies found ways to rig mileage and emissions testing data. In Europe, some automakers have taped up test cars' doors and grilles to bolster their aerodynamics. Others have used 'superlubricants' to reduce friction in the car's engine to a degree that would be impossible in real-world driving conditions. Automakers have even been known to make test vehicles lighter by removing the back seats."
 
In the U.S., it has been present as long as the Environmental Protection Agency (which regulates car emissions) has existed:
 
"Cheating in the United States started as soon as governments began regulating automotive emissions in the early 1970s. In 1972, certification of Ford Motor's new cars was held up after the Environmental Protection Agency found that the company had violated rules by performing constant maintenance of its test cars, which reduced emissions but did not reflect driving conditions in the real world."
 
It seems that evading rules and regulations is standard operating practice in the industry, with any fines that result from being caught seen as an affordable cost of doing business. After the EPA found Ford guilty in 1972, for example:
 
"Ford walked away with a $7 million fine. The next year, the agency fined Volkswagen $120,000 after finding that the company had installed devices intended specifically to shut down a vehicle's pollution control systems. In 1974, Chrysler had to recall more than 800,000 cars because similar devices were found in the radiators of its cars."
 
And so on, and so on. The article, of course, makes no mention of any car company that was put out of business as a result of its fraudulent behavior, even when people died as a result:
 
"No matter the offense, penalties have often been fleeting. Executives are not jailed; fines are manageable."
 
If you can believe it:
 
"In the United States, automakers' lobbying has ensured that the statute giving powers to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 'has no specific criminal penalty for selling defective or noncompliant vehicles,' says Joan Claybrook, a former administrator of the agency and a longtime advocate of auto safety."
 
Of course, the Ford Pinto stands as the poster child for "cost-benefit analysis," and nothing much has changed since. GM's recent fine of $900m for its ignition switch fiasco that resulted in the confirmed deaths of 124 people is just the latest in a long line of pathetic settlements that let everyone off-the-hook. Even though the Department of Justice found that GM knowingly sold faulty cars that were resulting in driver deaths, no individuals were held accountable as part of the settlement. It is just the most recent example of what appears to be a long-standing, soft-touch approach to regulating the industry:
 
"The universe of automotive scandals has been a broad and often tragic one, including Ford's 1978 recalls of 1.5 million Pintos after evidence emerged that its gas tanks were prone to catch fire during impacts. The Chrysler Corporation was indicted in 1987 on charges of disconnecting the odometers of 60,000 cars used by executives and then selling them as new. The Ford-Firestone scandal that started in the late 1990s was linked to 271 deaths. And more than 23 million cars have been recalled by 11 automakers over airbags made by Takata that could violently rupture in an accident."
 
The list goes on. And, in case you thought that the VW crisis is in any way less of a concern than these others, here is the opening paragraph in The Economist's lead editorial this week:
 
"Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other nasties from cars' and lorries' exhausts cause large numbers of early deaths—perhaps 58,000 a year in America alone, one study suggests. So the scandal that has engulfed Volkswagen (VW) this week is no minor misdemeanour or victimless crime. … The damage to VW itself is immense. But the events of this week will affect other carmakers, other countries and the future of diesel itself."
 
So, I am interested in the burden of fault in all this. Who do you think is most to blame—the regulators for failing to punish firms in a way that discourages rule-breaking, or the firms themselves for taking advantage of the weak enforcement? While there is plenty of blame to go around, I think the regulators are primarily at fault. By consistently failing to punish firms in a way that lets them know rule-breaking will not be tolerated and will threaten the firm's license to operate if life is endangered, the regulators are implicitly condoning corner cutting for competitive advantage. That is the behavior they were incentivizing, so that is the behavior that resulted. Regulators have the power (and authority) to put repeat transgressors out of business—in fact, it is their duty to do so. That they don't, to me (and to the firms), signals that the behavior is ultimately acceptable to those setting the rules. Underpinning the concept of "corporate stakeholder responsibility" (an important component of Strategic CSR) is the idea that stakeholders have a responsibility to hold the firm to account. It is this accountability that underpins the idea that firms' self-interest lies in adhering to their stakeholders' wishes. If stakeholders are unwilling to enforce their values by holding firms to account, we can only blame ourselves when we do not get the behavior from companies that we say we seek. For now, stand by for this crisis to grow beyond VW:
 
"While officially stated fuel efficiency and carbon-dioxide emissions figures have steadily improved over the years, real-world tests showed no corresponding improvement, according to the European Federation for Transport and Environment, an advocacy group based in Brussels. In fact, the group's testing found that the average diesel car was producing emissions five times as high as what was permitted. Some vehicles from BMW and Opel emitted 10 times as much pollution on the road as in the lab. The difference between the lab and real-world results swelled to 40 percent last year, on average, from 8 percent in 2002, the group also found."
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
An Industry With an Outlaw Streak Against Regulation
By Danny Hakim and Hiroko Tabuchi
September 24, 2015
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final
B1
 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Strategic CSR - Finance

The article in the url below reports the latest success for environmental activists campaigning against banks that finance companies involved in strip coal mining:
 
"Last week, with little fanfare, PNC Financial, the nation's seventh-largest bank, disclosed a significant strategic shift. The bank said it would no longer finance coal-mining companies that pursue mountaintop removal of coal in Appalachia, an environmentally devastating practice that has long drawn opposition."
 
It seems that PNC was one of the few remaining banks willing to finance this industry:
 
"PNC had been a holdout; Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Credit Suisse and others had already distanced themselves from coal companies involved in mountaintop removal."
 
As such, future options for the industry are running out:
 
"GE Capital and UBS appear to be the only large financial institutions in the country still willing to lend money to companies involved in this mountaintop mining, and even they are scrutinizing such activities."
 
The article suggests that this strategy of trying to cut-off supplies of finance is more effective for campaigners instead of trying to force investors to divest from carbon energy stocks:
 
"It's one thing for large investors like the Rockefeller family or Stanford University's endowment to pull out of fossil fuel companies. The result, maybe, is a marginally lower stock price for the big oil players. But it's quite another when the nation's banks decide, independently or collectively, to effectively shut off the financing for projects that require considerable capital. It has the effect of killing the business."
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
A New Tack in the War on Mining Mountains
By Andrew Ross Sorkin
March 10, 2015
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final
B1
 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Strategic CSR - Climate data

The article in the URL below does not need much commentary. It is a summary of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) annual report on the state of the climate for 2014 in six easy to understand (and frightening) graphics. The data is compiled from 413 scientists around the globe who collect the data in their locality and submit it to the NOAA. In order, the graphics in the article explain:
 
1. Average temperatures – rising
2. Sea levels – rising
3. Glaciers – retreating
4. Number of hot days – increasing
5. Greenhouse gasses – increasing
6. Ocean temperatures – increasing
 
In short:
 
"The annual State of the Climate report is out, and it's ugly. Record heat, record sea levels, more hot days and fewer cool nights, surging cyclones, unprecedented pollution, and rapidly diminishing glaciers."
 
Have a good weekend
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
The Freakish Year in Broken Climate Records
By Tom Randall
July 17, 2015
Bloomberg Businessweek
 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Strategic CSR - BlackRock

The article in the url reports on an open letter sent by the CEO of BlackRock to "the chief executives of 500 of the nation's largest companies." BlackRock is the world's largest asset management company (managing more than $4 trillion), which makes it a very important shareholder:
 
"The sender of the letter is Laurence D. Fink, chief executive of BlackRock. … He is planning to tell the leaders that too many of them have been trying to return money to investors through so-called shareholder-friendly steps like paying dividends and buying back stock."
 
While it would seem to be in Mr. Fink's interest to have firms paying dividends and buying-back shares; due to its investment strategy, BlackRock is more concerned with the long-term health of the overall market:
 
"'The effects of the short-termist phenomenon are troubling both to those seeking to save for long-term goals such as retirement and for our broader economy,' Mr. Fink writes in the letter. He says that such moves were being done at the expense of investing in 'innovation, skilled work forces or essential capital expenditures necessary to sustain long-term growth.'"
 
Rather than a sign that companies are acting in their shareholders' best interests, BlackRock sees excessive funds spent on dividends and buybacks as evidence that senior executives have run out of ideas:
 
"United States companies spent nearly $1 trillion last year on stock repurchases and dividends. … Rather than consider the return of all this money to shareholders positively, Mr. Fink says the move 'sends a discouraging message about a company's ability to use its resources wisely and develop a coherent plan to create value over the long term.'"
 
Mr. Fink does not blame CEOs for the lack of creativity, however. Instead, he blames investors for the short-term constraints they place on management, which prevents them from doing their jobs:
 
"'Investors need to focus on long-term strategies and long-term outcomes,' Mr. Fink said, suggesting we're currently living in a 'gambling society.'"
 
Moreover, he has a good suggestion of how to improve the situation:
 
"He recommends that gains on investments held for less than three years be taxed as ordinary income, not at the usually lower long-term capital gains rate, which now applies after one year. … 'Since when was one year considered a long-term investment? A more effective structure would be to grant long-term treatment only after three years, and then to decrease the tax rate for each year of ownership beyond that, potentially dropping to zero after 10 years.'"
 
While such a change would undoubtedly suit BlackRock's investment strategy, Fink seems genuine in his critique of the damage done by an overly short-term perspective – an affliction that affects much more than investment decisions:
 
"To Mr. Fink, the shortsightedness that pervades corporate America is just a symptom of a larger issue. 'This is not just a corporate problem,' he said. 'It's a societal problem, whether it's health care or politics or business.'"
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
A CEO Urges Others to Stop Being So Nice to Investors
By Andrew Ross Sorkin
April 14, 2015
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final
B1
 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Strategic CSR - Sustainability MBAs

The article in the url below presents some interesting data:
 
"Sustainable-finance MBA graduates are finding a harsh reality when they enter the job market: Even a sustainable-investing firm might not want to hire someone with a sustainable MBA. Although every MBA program in U.S. News & World Report's top 10 offers its students a chance to learn sustainable business, social enterprise, or socially responsible investing practices, many candidates are finding that employers prefer a more generalized MBA graduate when it comes time to hire."
 
As Erika Karp, CEO of Cornerstone Capital Group (a sustainable finance firm that "has never hired someone with a sustainable MBA") states:
 
"Just studying sustainable investing or sustainable finance or sustainable business is missing the mark. … Studying finance, investing, and business is great. But the idea of having some type of false bifurcation—a segregated sustainable MBA—concerns me. … I worry a lot about the current perception that sustainability is a niche, nice-to-have, or even a detractor from real business, real finance, and real economics. … There are large institutions that still see sustainability as a box-ticking exercise. Some see it as exclusively risk-mitigation, some as just a branding, reputation, or marketing exercise. I am concerned that the idea of having a sustainable MBA would not dispel these views. I'm hoping and I'm aspiring that one day we won't talk about sustainable finance; we'll just talk about finance."
 
This raises an issue that is core to Strategic CSR –that the ideas and values that underpin this management philosophy need to be integrated into the core functional classes of the business school and not treated as a standalone exercise. There is no established career path for a CSR or sustainability officer. Mostly, people who enter these positions have expertise in a core functional area and a passion for integrating CSR throughout the firm.
 
This is as it should be because it is impossible to separate ethics and morals from any aspect of human behavior. Everything we do involves an ethical and moral component and, more often than not, tradeoffs among ideals. These same tensions and pressures exist in business. All aspects of a firm's operations, to some degree, have moral, ethical, or value-laden inputs and outputs. While we may agree or disagree about whether an employee should be paid a living wage or a minimum wage, for example, there is no doubt that the decision is consequential for the firm, the employee, and for the society in which both exist. As a result, there is an ethical and moral perspective from which the problem can be addressed and about which we can disagree—but, it is not separate from the core operational decision. These same considerations and conflicts extend to all aspects of business. As Howard Bowen said back in 1953:
 
"When a businessman [sic] decides whether or not to produce a new product or service, he is helping to decide the range of products available to customers. When he decides whether or not to purchase new plant and equipment, he is helping to determine the rate of economic progress and is influencing the level of employment and prices. When he decides to close down a plant or to move it to another location, he may be affecting the economic future. When he decides to build up or reduce inventories, he may be contributing to inflation or accelerating recession. When he changes his wage policy or dividend policy, he may be influencing both the level of employment and the degree of justice achieved in our distribution of income. When he uses the newspaper, radio, and television for advertising or public relations, he may be influencing moral and cultural standards. When he introduces new personnel policies, he may be contributing toward cooperation and understanding between labor and management or he may be reinforcing existing tensions and frictions. When he transacts business in foreign lands, he may be contributing to international tensions or to international understanding." (p4)
 
You will know a business school is serious about CSR/sustainability when the specialization is dropped and these ideas are incorporated into the core functional classes of the curriculum.
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
Sustainability-Finance MBAs Struggle to Find Jobs
By Amanda Albright
July 24, 2015
Bloomberg Businessweek
 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Strategic CSR - Female CEOs

The article in the url below highlights the disproportionate attention placed by activist investors on S&P 500 firms that are run by women:
 
"Only 23 women lead companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. Yet at least a quarter of them have fallen into the cross hairs of activist investors."
 
The article suggests this pattern of behavior may arise for a couple of reasons:
 
"Are companies led by women truly more likely to be poor performers in need of change? Or do activist investors — all of them men — see women as softer targets?"
 
Another possibility, however, is that the boards of companies in financial distress are more likely to appoint female CEOs, which then increases the chances the organization will be targeted for under-performance. This phenomenon would also help explain another interesting statistic quoted in the article:
 
"It is also true that more women are fired from top positions than men. A 2013 study conducted by a unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 'among C.E.O.s leaving once over the past 10 years, a higher share of women have been forced out than men (38 percent of women vs. 27 percent of men).'"
 
 
Have a good weekend.
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
The Women of the S&P 500 and Investor Activism
By Andrew Ross Sorkin
February 10, 2015
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final
B1
 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Strategic CSR - Addictions

The article in the url below is an interesting reflection on our relationship with the internet, in general, and the electronic devices that allow us to access the internet, in particular. As the author notes, we are connected online today in ways that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago:
 
"It is reckoned that four-fifths of smartphone owners check their devices within 15 minutes of waking up, and that the typical user does so 150 times a day."
 
The core issue in the article is the extent to which the manufacturers of these devices are aware of our growing addiction and deliberately design their products to take advantage of it. Their intention, it is suggested, is to increase our dependence:
 
"Internet entrepreneurs devote a lot of thought to getting people hooked on their products. How else can they survive in a world in which hundreds of new ones are launched every day? And smartphones and tablets have helped greatly: what could be more habit-forming than devices that are always evolving, always there and always buzzing with fresh diversions?"
 
As the tobacco companies realized a long time ago, of course, the advantage of an addictive product is that it is very good at generating loyal consumers and, therefore, predictable revenues:
 
"Habit-forming products help companies squeeze more money or information out of their customers. Some video-game makers get players hooked and then charge them for virtual products. … Google specialises in useful apps, from Gmail to Google Maps, that gently squeeze data from users, the better to serve them ads. … Getting started on Twitter or Facebook is simple; but the more you tweet, the better and more popular your Twitter account becomes, and the more you search for friends and family on Facebook the more useful it is."
 
Ultimately, however, the author has a more specific point that he wants to make:
 
"Should the makers of habit-forming products be praised as innovative entrepreneurs? Or shunned as the immoral equivalents of drug pushers?"
 
Taken to the extreme, the line seems fine between meeting consumers' needs and taking over our lives:
 
"As smartphones become loaded with ever more sensors, and with software that can interpret their users' emotional states, the scope for manipulating minds is growing. The world is also on the cusp of a wearable revolution which will fix Google Glasses to people's skulls and put smart T-shirts onto their torsos: the irresistible, all-knowing machines will be ever more ubiquitous. And the trouble with insatiable desires is that the struggle to sate them leaves everyone as exhausted as they are unfulfilled."
 
Defenders of the industry note that the distinction between habit and addiction is valid and important:
 
"Creating a habit-forming product is in fact very hard. There have been plenty of digital products, such as Farmville, that were crazes for a while but went out of fashion. There is an important distinction between a habit and an addiction: only about 1% of people who regularly play slot machines, one of the most habit-forming technologies ever created, can reasonably be described as addicted. The proportion is surely lower for Twitter and the like."
 
I don't know about you but, even if the 1% number is true (and I suspect it is higher), 1% of a 300 million active users (Twitter) or 1.2 billion active users (Facebook) seems quite a lot of people.
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
Getting hooked
By Schumpeter
January 3, 2015
The Economist
Late Edition – Final
53
 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Strategic CSR - Fashion

The article in the url below reviews a documentary that was released earlier this year, The True Cost:
 
"The True Cost, a documentary examining the environmental, social and even the psychological impact of our rapid consumption of fashion, opens today in Los Angeles, New York and London, as well as on iTunes and video on-demand services. The film represents [the director, Andrew] Morgan's own journey of discovery as he documented fashion's globalized supply chain—whether it is discussing pesticide usage on a Texas cotton farm, meeting women in Bangladesh who are struggling to create a better way of life for their children, or examining a fair-trade brand's process in Japan."
 
Of the clips I have seen, The True Cost raises some important questions about the values on which we live our lives and structure our society (see also Strategic CSR – Fast fashion). The struggle I have is with the bigger picture. 150 years ago, the working conditions we see today in much of the developing world were commonplace in the industrializing world (i.e., the UK, Europe, and the US). In fact, I wonder how many critics of these working conditions realize that it was only in 1938 that child labor was prohibited in the U.S. with the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
 
As such, I wonder to what extent these conditions are a necessary stage that economies need to progress through in order to reach a more "developed state." Critics say essentially that, because we know better today, those economies should be able to skip those states (and it is incumbent upon us to help them do that). While developing countries will undoubtedly take less time to reach comparable living standards to the developed world today, I doubt that it is as simple as just willing ourselves there. The ineffectiveness of much overseas aid indicates the challenges faced in building modern institutions rapidly in underdeveloped societies. As such, if those countries take a further 50 years to evolve beyond today's standard-of-living, that will be an amazing achievement in a relatively short period of time, but that is a difficult argument to convey to those who demand miracles today.
 
The trailer for the documentary can be seen on its website: http://truecostmovie.com/
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
Fashion Documentary Exposes Environmental and Human Costs of Those $8 Jeans
By Robin Kawakami
May 29, 2015
The Wall Street Journal
 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Strategic CSR - The Pope

On the eve of the Pope's visit to the U.S., it is good to know that the protection of the environment recently received some Divine intervention:
 
"Pope Francis has established an annual day of global prayer 'for the Care of Creation' to boost support for the environment, the Vatican said on Monday. … 'I wish to inform you that I have decided to institute in the Catholic Church the 'World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation' which, beginning this year, is to be celebrated on 1 September,' the pope said in a letter released by the Vatican."
 
As the article in the url below notes, prayer for the environment on September 1 has apparently been a long-standing tradition:
 
"Francis said he had been inspired by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, who have been praying for the environment on that date since the late 1980s."
 
Given that the state of the environment has only continued to worsen since the 1980s, however, it may be that God is not listening, or perhaps we need to pray harder. Or, of course, we could all just change our behavior.
 
Have a good weekend.
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
Pope creates global prayer day for the environment
Associated Press
August 10, 2015
The Guardian
 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Strategic CSR - Inequality

The article in the url below highlights the issue of wealth inequality across the globe:
 
"Earlier this year, Oxfam International released a surprising report that found that the top 1% of income earners in the world are poised to own more than half of all global wealth in 2016. The study was unveiled just prior to the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland this past January."
 
The jump to over 50% of total wealth has increased rapidly in the past few years:
 
"Specifically, the study found that the wealthiest 1% on the planet have seen their share of wealth increase from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014. In the past five years alone, the richest 80 [people] experienced a doubling of their wealth in cash terms."
 
The contrast at the bottom end is striking:
 
"This means that 80% of the global population own a mere 5.5% of the world's wealth … with more than a billion people worldwide living on less than $1.25 a day."
 
In response, Oxfam is advocating a seven point plan that it claims will address the "consequences … inherent in extreme income inequality":
  1. Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals.
  2. Invest in universal, free public services such as health and education.
  3. Share the tax burden fairly, shifting taxation from labour and consumption toward capital and wealth.
  4. Introduce minimum wages and move towards a living wage for all workers.
  5. Introduce equal pay legislation and promote economic policies to give women a fair deal.
  6. Ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest, including a minimum income guarantee.
  7. Agree to a global goal to tackle inequality.
 
While I would quibble with point 4 (I am not sure paying everyone a living wage as a minimum, irrespective of productivity, would do anything other than increase inflation) and am unsure what point 7 means (a good way to make a short bullet point list to tackle a massive problem is to make the last point basically 'anything else we need to do to reach the goal'), in general I support the list. In particular, I think points 1-3 are essential and reverse elements of public policy that have become corrupted over the years.
 
I wonder what the chances are that this plan (or any part of it) is going to be given serious consideration in the corridors of power?
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
The 1% Will Own Half of Global Wealth by 2016, but Oxfam Has a Plan to Even Things Out
By Laura Kiesel
May 7, 2015
Main Street
 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Strategic CSR - Sweden

The article in the url below contains an interesting statistic from Scandinavia:
 
"Sweden now recycles or reuses an incredible 99 percent of its waste, an improvement on the already impressive 2012 figure of 96 percent."
 
How does it do it?
 
"The country uses a waste management hierarchy system that focuses in descending order on prevention, reuse, recycling, recycling alternatives, and as a last resort, disposal in landfill. While only one percent of the average annual 461 kilograms of waste that each Swede produces winds up at the landfill stage, it is the 'recycling alternatives' stage that is still causing controversy, as it involves the incineration of around two million tons of trash a year in the country's Waste-to-energy (WTE) program."
 
Partly, the WTE program is controversial because the Swedes are now importing excess waste from other European countries in order to burn it. The result, however, is impressive:
 
"950,000 Swedish households are heated by the energy produced by the system, and 260,000 households are powered by it."

In contrast:
 
"According to the EPA, in 2012 the U.S. only reclaimed 34.5 percent of its waste."

Have a good weekend
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
Sweden Now Recycles a Staggering 99 Percent of its Garbage
By Beverley Mitchell
September 3, 2014
Inhabitat.com
 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Strategic CSR - Truthiness

As a faculty member of a modern business school, I am often reminded that I am supposed to be conducting research that is relevant to the business world. This perspective, of course, assumes that the business world is just sitting on the edge of its seat, waiting to see what amazing truth I can uncover so that they can immediately alter their organizational policies and practices to accommodate the new reality. Call me cynical, but my sense is that the business world is not looking to academia for insight and, even if executives bothered to look at what we are doing, it would not change much of how they operate today.
 
I was thinking about this the other day in relation to a core finding from social psychology—diverse groups make better decisions than homogenous groups. This finding is intuitive and is supported by decades of research. Now, diverse groups are less efficient, due simply to the fact that the different perspectives of everyone need to be accounted for. It is clear, however, that, in the end, diverse groups make better quality decisions. As a result, it is in businesses' best interests to foster these diverse groups whenever possible.
 
So, how has this basic finding been received by the business community that is supposed to be waiting for us to produce "relevant" research? How is it being implemented in relation to boards of directors, for example, where the primary job qualifications still seem to be that you are white and male? What about group formation within companies? Most of the students who I meet (part-time MBA students who are already working) are oblivious to this basic finding, which has been around and widely publicized for decades.
 
I was reminded of this debate by the article in the url below, which catalog's the resistance within the general public to scientific facts:
 
"The creationist battle against evolution remains fierce, and more sophisticated than ever. But it's not just organized religions that are insisting on their own alternate truths. On one front after another, the hard-won consensus of science is also expected to accommodate personal beliefs, religious or otherwise, about the safety of vaccines, G.M.O. crops, fluoridation or cellphone radio waves, along with the validity of global climate change."
 
The point is that facts are rejected, not on the basis of some competing empirical evidence, but simply because they run counter to people's own beliefs about the world, and they are not willing to cede ground to experts on the basis that they might know more about the subject than they think they do:
 
"In a kind of psychological immune response, they reject ideas they consider harmful. A study published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggested that it is more effective to appeal to anti-vaxxers through their emotions, with stories and pictures of children sick with measles, the mumps or rubella — a reminder that subjective feelings are still trusted over scientific expertise."
 
Stephen Colbert's concept of "truthiness" speaks to this phenomenon; Donald Trump's campaign for president is also a consequence. The extremes to which this can be taken seem limitless:
 
"On a deeper level, characteristics that once seemed biologically determined are increasingly challenged as malleable social constructs. As she resigned from her post this summer, an N.A.A.C.P. local leader continued to insist she was black although she was born white. Facebook now offers users a list of 56 genders to choose from. Transgender sits on the list, along with its opposite, cisgender — meaning that, like most people, you identify yourself as male or female according to the way the cells of your embryo unfolded in the womb."
 
Of course, all is this would be funny if the consequences were not so serious:
 
"Viewed from afar, the world seems almost on the brink of conceding that there are no truths, only competing ideologies — narratives fighting narratives. In this epistemological warfare, those with the most power are accused of imposing their version of reality — the 'dominant paradigm' — on the rest, leaving the weaker to fight back with formulations of their own. Everything becomes a version."
 
I see similar challenges with the debate around CSR. It is hard to change minds and attitudes. It is even harder to change organizational cultures and practices. That is not to say we should not keep trying, but I can't help feeling that businesses should do a better job of meeting us halfway in the pursuit of knowledge. As much as it is our responsibility to produce relevant research, it is the responsibility of the business community to implement that relevant research when we produce it.
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
The Gradual Extinction of Accepted Truths
By George Johnson
August 25, 2015
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final
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