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Doing Good' Does Not Always Improve the Bottom Line

Idea posted: May 2019
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

The inspiring phrase of “doing well by doing good” oversimplifies the connection between corporate social responsibility and corporate financial performance, according to new research that uncover the conditions that can weaken and even destroy the path from CSR to CFP.

Idea #740
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The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (detail), Francisco Goya (Courtesy: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri)

How to Fight Off an Upstart with a New Business Model

Idea posted: October 2018
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship


Faced with a new competitor with a new business model, incumbents can respond with different strategies based on sharing (co-deployment) or moving (re-deployment) their resources.

Idea #716
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Sustainability-driven Hybrid Companies Challenge Business Dogma

Idea posted: April 2017
  • CSR & Governance

The corporate world has embraced sustainability, but without challenging the basic rules of competition and economic success. Hybrid companies that blur the lines between business and societal/environmental missions prove that these rules can, and should, be challenged.

Idea #650
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Sustainable Manufacturing Part 1: People, Technology and Collaboration

Idea posted: April 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

The first phase of a major project on sustainable manufacturing, a food-and-drink industry giant and a UK university sponsored a roundtable discussion on sustainable manufacturing by 24 manufacturing experts from industry, government and academia. The roundtable yielded six major themes — People, Big Data, Technology, Collaboration, Value and Resilience — that describe the key areas on which manufacturers must focus to build a sustainable future.

Idea #652
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Sustainable Manufacturing Part 2: Five Pathways

Idea posted: April 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

A collaborative research project on sustainable manufacturing between a food and drink giant and a university uncovers five pathways to sustainable manufacturing in 2050 that leverage technology and collaboration to build environmentally conscious supply chains that support — and involve — society.

Idea #653
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"Then Out Spake Brave Horatius…" Horatius Cocles Leads the Romans in Battle against the Etruscans, Tommaso Minardi, early to mid 1800’s

Crisis Communication: Emphasize the Positive

Idea posted: March 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

People are more open to messages that fit their motivational impulses, such as the tendency to avoid risk or the desire to achieve stretch goals. New research reveals that this rule of thumb does not apply to times of crises, when, no matter your usual motivational tendencies, positive goal-oriented messages prevail.

Idea #649
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Hands with flowers

Collaborate with Suppliers to Ensure Green Practices in the Supply Chain

Idea posted: August 2016
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

A new study shows that collaborating with suppliers, rather than just monitoring them, is more effective in ensuring that they are engaging in green and sustainable practices. Internal non-coercive drivers (for example, pressure from top management rather than government regulators) encourage buyer/supplier collaboration. 

Idea #617
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System change not climate change', 2009, UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Photo: kris krüg via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

How Social Movements Spark Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives

Idea posted: April 2016
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Social movements change society’s expectations of a company, as well as influence the thinking and values of individuals in that company. Under ideological pressure from diverse categories of external and internal stakeholders, the company responds with a corporate social responsibility agenda. 

Idea #603
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President Barack Obama in the Oval Office with daughters Malia and Sasha, 2009 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How a Daughter Might Shape the CEO

Idea posted: November 2015
  • CSR & Governance

Can having a daughter impact the decisions of a CEO? The answer is yes, according to new research that compared corporate social responsibility scores of companies whose CEOs had daughters to companies whose CEOs were childless — or only had sons. 

Idea #566
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Management Practices that Lead to Corporate Social Responsibility

Idea posted: October 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Superior management quality practices, in areas such as monitoring employee performance, updating operations, setting targets and establishing incentives, will impact the extent of a company’s corporate social responsible practices — notably in issues related to stakeholder concerns, such as diversity, environmental performance and employee relations. 

Idea #554
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Bucket wheel excavator at the Tagebau Garzweiler mine, Germany (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The World Needs Mining, but Mining Must Change

Idea posted: January 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Demand is increasing for the mining industry, but so are costs and challenges — including increasing intolerance for the negative impact of mining activities on the environment and on local communities and indigenous people. The result: currently $24 billion in industry losses due to delays and resistance. A new initiative, involving all stakeholders impacted by mining operations and led by one of the giants of the industry, offers a roadmap for a collaborative, long-term sustainable approach to mining.

Idea #476
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Projected thickness of Arctic Ice over 100 year timespan (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Strategies Companies Are Using to Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Climate change is real and major companies are already developing and implementing detailed strategies to reduce their impact on the environment, reduce their vulnerability to the extreme weather caused by climate change, and anticipate or even lead climate change-related market developments, including significant public policy changes now on the horizon.

Idea #406
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The Sower by Jean-François Millet, circa 1865, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

How Well Is CSR Embedded in Business Strategy?

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

CSR and sustainable development are now widely seen as core parts of business. This does not, however, mean they’re always treated as core parts of business strategy. The management control systems big companies use to design, implement and monitor CSR sometimes suggest a ‘reactive’ rather than a ‘proactive’ approach from leaders.

Idea #374
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The Green Investment Gap — And How to Close It

Idea posted: October 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

Private investment in renewable energy technologies is increasing but remains below the level required to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. Solving the problem could depend on a new approach from policy makers. Recently published research on the European market sheds new light on the ‘drivers’ of investment decisions — and suggests that financial factors and government subsidies are not the only drivers.

Idea #243
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Think difference

How Social Intrapreneurs Get Heard

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutions: INSEAD

Corporate social entrepreneurship initiatives, usually the work of intrapreneurs (entrepreneurial executives within the corporation) keen to solve social problems, have important macro- and micro-economic implications. They create value for people who are not current stakeholders - and they create opportunities to innovate and diversify. There are, however, barriers to their development. A model that counters the conventional logic of the organization and puts financial sustainability before growth could be the solution.

Idea #151
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Female Directors Create Corporate Sustainability

Idea posted: March 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Recent research and management thinking often stresses that diversity, especially gender diversity, is a critical factor in improving the quality of a company’s leadership and decision-making. But could it also impact the overall financial, environmental, and social impact of an organization as well?  

Idea #105
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Culture Club: Coaching by Values for Corporate Success

Idea posted: March 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: ESADE

How can leaders create the right corporate culture to confront the myriad levels of complexity in today’s turbulent business environment?

The emerging concept of ‘coaching by values’ (CBV) provides a flexible framework to help them reengineer their organization’s corporate culture and create positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

Idea #106
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Shopping cart with green arrow

Embedding CSR and Sustainability: Marks & Spencer

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Using Marks & Spencer as an example, there are certain practices other organizations can similarly apply to improve focus on corporate responsibility and sustainability. The UK retailer has made a number of successful moves towards embedding social and environmental awareness and practices into its everyday strategic vision. In this Idea, these are analyzed and discussed, offering companies tips they can similarly apply.

Idea #039
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Engaged Employees: CSR, Sustainability and Performance

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Engaging employees with sustainability issues can play an important role in the creation of both social and commercial value. Forward-thinking companies are embracing sustainability programs driven from the top down and bottom up, to gain a number of additional benefits interlinked with increased employee engagement and performance.

Idea #040
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Hindustan Unilever's Shakti Programme

CSR: Creating Value through Partnerships

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: IMD

Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives have overcome the stigma of being a distraction; something to be suffered. Smart companies now recognise CSR as an opportunity to significantly strengthen their businesses – while building and renewing human, social and natural wealth. Finding the right partner is absolutely critical to the success of a CSR strategy; and there are steps that can be taken to ensure a partnership co-creates value for both business and society.

Idea #071
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Sustainable People Policies for Sustainable Organizations

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Are human sustainability policies any less vital for a 21st Century organization than environmental ones? While the surface effects may not be so obvious, the impact on society can be huge. As pace-setting companies and cultures re-optimise toward ‘higher order fundamentals’ like human prosperity; well-being, happiness, satisfaction – employee health becomes a crucial conversation to have.

Idea #010
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