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Time for CSR to Grow Up or Fade Away, says Review of 2003

Submitted by: New Academy of Business

Categories: Business Ethics

Posted: Feb 01, 2004 – 11:00 PM EST


A review of corporate social responsibility (CSR) during 2003, written by a group of leading academics and practitioners in the field, argues that it is time for CSR “to grow up or fade away.”

Feb. 01 /CSRwire/ - BATH, UK - The 2003 Lifeworth Annual Review of Corporate Responsibility, supported by the New Academy of Business, features writing from the premiere academic publication in the field, the Journal of Corporate Citizenship.

“People are becoming increasingly disheartened with CSR initiatives," notes Dr. Jem Bendell, lead author of the Review. "They’re often used to promote an ideological agenda that gets big business and government off the hook for the state of the world. Christian Aid’s recent report shows that major NGOs are turning against CSR. It’s time for CSR to grow up and address the systemic problems with globalisation, or fade away into irrelevance.”

This year’s Annual Review looks at systemic issues, and therefore "could help us in exploring a future agenda for CSR that would be truly transformative" says Dr. David Murphy, Director of the New Academy of Business. Issues examined include the lobbying influence and tax-avoidance strategies of large corporations, as well as the responsibility of corporations for war and poverty. The Review suggests that issues like corporate tax dodging, which cost Europe about £100 billion a year and the developing world well over $50bn a year, must become central to our understanding of CSR. Suggestions are made for a new approach to CSR reporting, that would focus on quantifiable measures of the costs and benefits of corporate activity.

The debate over deregulation and regulation for corporate accountability is examined, and legal challenges to business analysed - from the ethics-based litigation in South Africa to anti-competitive strategies, the definition of commercial speech to news from the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The role of the UN is also heavily featured - from an exploration of the work of the International Labour Organisation for supporting health and safety in micro-enterprises to the contribution of its trade and development arm UNCTAD, and conflicting opinions about the role of private sector partnerships in the work of the UN. In addition, the review explores debates within academic fields of economics and development, management education, leadership and business ethics that are relevant to a broader understanding of corporate responsibility.

The Review was co-authored and sponsored by the New Academy of Business. The New Academy is an independent business school and charity that supports enterprise through education and research (www.new-academy.ac.uk).

As a career and headhunting agency specialising in the field of CSR, Lifeworth publishes the reviews to promote a more informed CSR profession. The reviews “bridge the gap between the practical and intellectual, helping us with the insight to promote business's contribution to sustainable development," believes Richard Sandbrook, a senior advisor to the UN Global Compact.

The Review is also supported by Greenleaf Publishing (www.greenleaf-publishing.com).

Note to Editors:
1- The Lifeworth Annual Review can be accessed at www.lifeworth.net or via www.new-academy.ac.uk

2- The Christian Aid report mentioned above can be accessed at: www.christianaid.org.uk/indepth/0401csr/index.htm

3- About the New Academy of Business
The New Academy of Business is committed to transforming business and management practice through education and research. We create innovative learning materials and processes to explore social, ethical and environmental questions, helping entrepreneurs, leaders, managers, workers and students respond to sustainability and organisational responsibility.

We work with our partners to develop insights into these complex issues through a people-centred learning approach known as ‘action research’. Based upon continuous cycles of reflective observation and practical application, action research creates new understandings and supports personal and organisational change.

Currently, the demand for our work is linked to sustainable development and business responsibility, through:

  • Human rights
  • Gender and diversity
  • Small enterprise development
  • Business-community relations
  • Multi-stakeholder partnerships
  • Participation and accountability processes
  • Future leadership and governance

    The latest book from the New Academy of Business is available now: Something to Believe In: Creating Trust and Hope in Organisations by Rupesh Shah, David F Murphy and Malcom McIntosh. See www.greenleaf-publishing.com/catalogue/stbi.htm

    To be released shortly: A synthesis report from our Enhancing Business-Community Relations project with United Nations Volunteers. The report looks at business-community relations and the role of volunteers in promoting corporate citizenship in seven countries - Brazil, Ghana, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Philippines and South Africa.

    Forthcoming short course: Business & Human Rights In Practice in association with the Amnesty International UK Business Group.

    Designed to build understanding of the relationship between human rights and business and the practical business application of international human rights standards. This course aims to develop the capacity of companies to implement their human rights commitments. It is a hands-on practitioner's course, reflected in its design and the use of a 'workplace' project.

    Dates: 10-12 March and 5 May 2004
    Venue: London

    See www.new-academy.ac.uk/education/businesshumanrights/index.htm

    We offer various formal and non-formal educational opportunities in the UK and internationally:

  • MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice: One of the world’s leading post-graduate programmes in global corporate responsibility, this course is run with the University of Bath.
  • Post-graduate teaching: Specialist modules within MBA and other post-graduate programmes at institutions, such as Lancaster University, University of Bristol, Manchester Business School, Birkbeck and University of Bath.
  • Training: Short courses, seminars and e-learning (eg Business and Human Rights in Practice), training for managers, and training of trainers, delivered in countries such as Cyprus, India, Poland, South Africa, Sudan and UK.
  • Capacity building: Supporting the learning of other organisations to scale up their educational work on responsible business, including collaboration with secondary schools in the UK, and globally with AIESEC and the British Council.

    Our research programme focuses on supporting responsible business practices in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We also work in Europe and North America. We design action research processes that help people to understand change where cultures meet. The resulting awareness, abilities and publications are used as catalysts for further change.
    Examples include:

  • Gender and codes of conduct with the Central American Women’s Network and the UK Department for International Development.
  • Social marketing for job quality with the International Labour Organisation in Ghana, India and Vietnam.
  • HIV/AIDS in the workplace with the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS.
  • Partnerships for sustainable development with WWF-International in Europe and North America.

    Since it was founded by Anita Roddick in 1995, the New Academy of Business has established a track record of working with universities, companies, NGOs and international organisations. We are supported by a strong group of associates, many of whom have completed the MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice. With our associate’s network, we make quick and thoughtful connections between diverse sectors and systems to facilitate education for responsible enterprise.

  • For more information, please contact:

    Rupesh Shah New Academy of Business
    Phone: +44 (0) 1225 388 648


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