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

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Strategic CSR - Mattel

The article in the first url below presents an interesting effort by the toy company, Mattel, to profit from human misery and economic hardship:

“American Girl dolls are expensive and extremely popular - among the most sought-after toys among girls from ages four and up. Each doll comes with its own storyline, and a relatively new doll is causing quite a stir. "Gwen," which debuted this year, is portrayed as being homeless.”

The ironies flow freely: First, the oxymoronic question posed in the blog in the second url below:

“How can a doll be homeless if you play with it in your home?”

Second, the price for the doll and its friends and accessories included in the article in the third url below:

“At almost $100 - Gwen's hairbrush costs an additional $7, or owners can get her hair done at the salon for $20 - the doll is hardly a bargain. Gwen's friend Chrissa has accessories including a $25 pet llama and a $78 craft studio.”

Mattel, of course, presents the doll as an attempt to educate children about a difficult, real-world issue:

“American Girl says the doll is meant to open girls' eyes to life's harsher realities. "Our singular goal with these stories is to help girls find their inner star by becoming kind, compassionate and loving people who make a positive and meaningful difference in the world around them," it said.”

In spite of Mattel’s efforts, however, it is hard to imagine the conversation that took place in deciding to develop this product and the logic used to proceed with its launch (other than motivated by crass commercialization).

Take care,

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

CBS News
Flap Over "Homeless" American Girl Doll
Some Observers See It as Awareness-Raising, Others Fear It Sends Wrong Message; And Where Do Proceeds Go?
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 26, 2009

The Atlantic
Controversy Over American Girl's $95 "Homeless" Doll
Sep 30 2009, 9:30am
by Megan Hupp

$95 downturn doll sleeps in a car
By Anna Fifield in Washington
437 words
3 October 2009
Financial Times
London Ed1

Monday, March 8, 2010

Strategic CSR - Climate Change

The article in the url below argues that, while those who take a stand against the science behind climate change risk their credibility, those who believe the current paradigm will result in substantive change are also “in denial”:

“The first UN agreement on climate change was struck in Rio back in 1992. But in the intervening years, the rate of CO emissions has risen steadily.”

There is a good argument to be made that economic development in the West got us into this mess and, as a result, the West carriers a higher burden to sort it out:

“The Indians and Chinese point out that the vast bulk of the CO already in the atmosphere has been put there by the industrialised countries of the west. China is now probably the largest emitter of CO in the world. But, on a per capita basis, emissions in China are still well below western levels. Why, ask the Indians and Chinese, should Americans and Europeans assume the right to continue using energy at levels that they seek to deny to poorer countries? It is a fair question.”

The odds of that happening any time soon, however, are not great:

“The proposed deal is that rich countries essentially bribe poorer countries to cut emissions and adopt cleaner technologies. China has proposed that developed nations should all agree to contribute 1 per cent of gross domestic product to help poorer nations fight global warming. Now imagine that you are Mr Obama trying to sell a deal like that back home.”

The numbers involved in enacting the level of change necessary are staggering:

“As Oliver Morton, the science writer, points out - "Building two terawatts of nuclear capacity by 2050 - enough to supply 10 per cent of the total carbon-free energy that's needed - means building a large nuclear power station every week; the current worldwide rate is about five a year. A single terawatt of wind - 5 per cent of the overall requirement - requires about 4m large turbines."”

Take care

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

Climate activists are also in denial
By Gideon Rachman
941 words
28 July 2009
Financial Times
Asia Ed1

Monday, March 1, 2010

Strategic CSR - Water

The article in the url below is one in a series of in-depth reports by the NYT into the state of water quality throughout the U.S. In particular, this article looks at reporting requirements for companies and the extent to which they comply, as well as pollution levels, state-by-state. The article also focuses on the actions (or inactions) taken by state regulators in response to abuses where they are identified. The article is long and too detailed to summarize here. Needless to say, however, it does not make for uplifting reading. I’ll spare you the gory anecdotes (of which, there are many) to focus on the numbers:

“Records analyzed by The Times indicate that the Clean Water Act has been violated more than 506,000 times since 2004, by more than 23,000 companies and other facilities, according to reports submitted by polluters themselves. … [However] fewer than 3 percent of Clean Water Act violations resulted in fines or other significant punishments by state officials.”

The overall tone and underlying message of the article can be summarized as follows: Polluter firms get away with what they can and the few regulators who try to act decisively to enforce the law are thwarted (and eventually fired if they persist) by well-financed lobbyists and the politicians they support.

The detailed data obtained by the NYT through Freedom of Information Act requests, along with the complete set of articles in the series, are posted on the newspaper’s website:

Take care

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

Clean Water Laws Neglected, at a Cost
By CHARLES DUHIGG; Karl Russell contributed reporting.
5394 words
13 September 2009
The New York Times
Late Edition - Final