Doing good is good for business

 

“[I]n pursuit of its legitimate activities the private sector, including both large and small companies, has a duty to contribute to the evolution of equitable and sustainable communities and societies.”

Article 27, Johannesburg Declaration, United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002.

 

Private sector business has a role to play in social and community development. How businesses can do that and still maximise profits is being researched by a team at Waikato Management School. Dr Steven Lim, Dr Michael Cameron, Associate Professor John Tressler and Annemieke van Soelen are looking at how the links between profits and corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be strengthened if private businesses are to maintain a competitive edge in the global economic environment. Business managers, perhaps because of commercial pressures or unfamiliarity with social issues, often overlook the important contributions that their companies make to others. Given this knowledge gap and the potential gains from incorporating social opportunities into commercial strategy, the researchers have developed a framework to assist businesses discover the social assets they possess. The assets, in turn, can enhance the competitiveness of a firm and provide profitable location opportunities.

The positive links between profits and CSR are an important, emerging area for business research. Through its research, the team aims to help managers integrate CSR issues into their overall business strategies, overturning the commonly perceived incompatibility between profits and CSR.

For their work in the CSR field, especially the integration of business location, employment creation and the fight against HIV/AIDS, the team received a research award from the International Academy of Business and Public Administration Disciplines in 2007.

The team’s CSR approach is currently being used in international leadership training programmes funded by the Asian Development Bank and other donors, with trainees from the Pacific, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

External funding gratefully acknowledged: Asia 2000, NZAID and others.

DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS
WAIKATO MANAGEMENT SCHOOL

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