I’ve been using this text to support learning in two classes I teach, Managing for Sustainability and Global Corporate Social Responsibility. I found it to be a strong support for my approach, which involves situation studies and roundtable discussions pertinent to each course. David Chandler’s approach works well for many reasons.
• Current discussions in our US government particularly render it difficult to focus on public policy influences on sustainability and social responsibility, or to promote ethical actions based on altruism. Business administration students may be biased toward a tendency to perceive profits as paramount, and non-business students attracted to the course topics may end up affirming one another’s perceived goodness without learning how to negotiate corporate-influenced environments.
• A vision of perfection may supplant the good that can come of more strategic CSR approaches. A firm’s capacity to genuinely address social challenges ranging from environmental concerns to social equity need not preclude profitability. Corporations’ opening to, and funding of, design and innovation can be important drivers to managing the natural resources left in the world and creating new ways to benefit everyone.
• While taking some issue with Milton Friedman’s notions of what business responsibility comprises (solely to make money), Chandler believes that CSR students have much to learn from the Nobel-prize winning economist, and I agree. Profitability, however, does need to be viewed over the long term as much as the short term. What do we profit in a desolate, ruined environment? If corporations come to the table in meaningful discussion surrounding the balance we “sustainers” seek, perhaps we would move in the right direction. There would be no losers, only investors.
• Strategic CSR seeks to assure profitability through enhanced relationship with all stakeholders, not just shareholders. As Chandler asserts, CSR is a responsibility among firms to meet the needs of their stakeholders and it’s a responsibility among stakeholders to hold firms to account for their actions.
Today’s interplay of business and society is complex and fraught with nuance. Conversations and understanding must evolve further to ensure a sustainable global future. This book offers plenty of material – and outstanding faculty resources – to support an instructor’s approach to helping students learn to mindfully manage people and resources in the world as it is, to the benefit of all: people, planet, and economic stability.