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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Strategic CSR - WL Gore

From the perspective of someone who would aspire to be a boss, if he worked for a for-profit firm, the article in the url below is refreshing, but also slightly threatening:

Like many tech companies, Valve Corp., a videogame maker in Bellevue, Wash., boasts high-end espresso, free massages and laundry service at its offices. One thing it doesn't have: bosses.

Reportedly, in the absence of hierarchical oversight, employees are motivated by the innovative structure, which seems to generate a culture that veers from anarchy to Communism:

At Valve, there are no promotions, only new projects. To help decide pay, employees rank their peers—but not themselves—voting on who they think creates the most value. … Any employee can participate in hiring decisions, which are usually made by teams. Firings, while relatively rare, work the same way: teams decide together if someone isn't working out. As for projects, someone typically emerges as the de facto manager, says Greg Coomer, a 16-year veteran of Valve who works on product design. When no one takes the lead, he adds, it's usually a sign that the project isn't worth doing.

The article reports that the ’boss-less’ approach can also be applied to larger, more traditional organizational structures:

For years General Electric Co. has run some aviation-manufacturing facilities with no foremen or shop-floor bosses. The industrial giant says it uses the system to boost productivity in low-volume factories with a relatively small number of employees, each of whom can do several tasks.

WL Gore (see: Strategic CSR: WL Gore) provides another good example of how this approach can work in practice:

Since it was founded in 1958, W.L. Gore has operated under what it calls a ‘lattice’ management structure, which relies on teams in place of bosses and traditional chains of command. … Gore's 10,000 employees, who work mainly in engineering and manufacturing, take on leadership roles based on their ability to ‘gain the respect of peers and to attract followers,’ says Ms. Kelly, the CEO. Those who choose not to take the lead also are valued, she adds, noting that the company prides itself on staff ‘followership.’ … Gore's employees, who are called ‘associates,’ each have a sponsor to guide their career and orient them to company culture. Jim Grigsby, an electrical engineer who joined Gore 13 years ago after working for more traditional companies, including defense contractors, says his sponsor urged him to spend a few days simply meeting people. … Mr. Grigsby found it jarring at first—‘Am I really getting paid just to meet people?’ he says he wondered. But, in a few months, he says, ‘it becomes apparent that you need these people to get project work done.’

Take care

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

Who’s the Boss? There Isn’t One
By Rachel Emma Silverman
June 20, 2012
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final