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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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Strategic CSR - South Park

This is the last CSR Newsletter of the Spring semester.
Have a great summer and I will see you in August!
The video in the url below is an old episode of the cartoon South Park that addresses the dominance of Walmart:
For all its crude humor, the show makes an insightful point about the underlying nature of Walmart. The firm is not an independent entity that acts and thinks (as it is so often portrayed by the CSR community); it is a reflection of the society in which it operates (a reflection of its collective set of stakeholders). This is why, in the cartoon, the "heart of Walmart" is a mirror. To put this another way, it is not Walmart that "puts Mom and Pop stores out of business," but society that does that. If Walmart's stakeholders (consumers, employees, local governments, etc.) did not see value in what Walmart does, the store would not exist. The fact that it does exist and is as successful as it is (90% of U.S. households shop there at least once a year) therefore says more about the values that are dominant in society today than almost any other business. It is a 'truth' that many CSR advocates appear reluctant to recognize. If we want Walmart to go away, we need to stop supporting it. If we want the big-box store to remain as a successful and dominant business reality (in whatever form it takes, Walmart, Target, K-Mart, Aldi, Primark, etc.), we need to keep doing exactly what we are currently doing.
Have a great summer.
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Monday, May 2, 2016

Strategic CSR - Ideological bias

The article in the url below explores an interesting question:
"Are liberals impairing our ability to combat climate change?"
The premise for the question is that everyone has biases, we are just selective in favoring those sources of information that match our particular biases. In other words, we support something when it complements our view of the world and find ways to undermine it when it challenges that view. For example, the widespread belief today (particularly among the left) is that conservatives pose the largest impediment to progress on climate change because they are 'anti-science.' This article suggests that, contrary to this view, there is anti-science bias all along the political spectrum:
"… even as progressive environmentalists wring their hands at the G.O.P.'s climate change denial, there are biases on the left that stray just as far from the scientific consensus. 'The left is turning anti-science,' Marc Andreessen, the creator of Netscape who as a venture capitalist has become one of the most prominent thinkers of Silicon Valley, told me not long ago. He was reflecting broadly about science and technology. His concerns ranged from liberals' fear of genetically modified organisms to their mistrust of technology's displacement of workers in some industries."
Further, the article suggests that it is in relation to the environment that liberal bias is particularly damaging:
"For starters, [liberals] stand against the only technology with an established track record of generating electricity at scale while emitting virtually no greenhouse gases: nuclear power. Only 35 percent of Democrats, compared with 60 percent of Republicans, favor building more nuclear power plants, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center. It is the G.O.P. that is closer to the scientific consensus. According to a separate Pew poll of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 65 percent of scientists want more nuclear power too."
To put it more bluntly in relation to the current U.S. presidential campaign:
"Ted Cruz's argument that climate change is a hoax to justify a government takeover of the world is absurd. But Bernie Sanders's argument that 'toxic waste byproducts of nuclear plants are not worth the risks of the technology's benefit' might also be damaging."
And it is not difficult to demonstrate the extent to which people are selective in their appreciation of science. In short, it is not that people are ignorant or unexposed to scientific discoveries, but that they simply refuse to believe them because they conflict with their larger ideological perspective:
"People on the right tend to like private businesses, which they see as productive job creators. They mistrust government. It's not surprising they will play down climate change when it seems to imply a package of policies that curb the actions of the former and give a bigger role to the latter. On the left, by contrast, people tend to mistrust corporations — especially big ones — as corrupt and destructive. These are the institutions bringing us both nuclear power and genetically modified agriculture."
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
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The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
Climate Change Bias, But on Both Sides
By Eduardo Porter
April 20, 2016
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final