Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become one of the most important domains in business management in recent decades, and nowadays it represents a dogma for all types of businesses. The meaning of CSR includes all activities, products, services, production and distribution processes that have a relevant impact on social and environmental conditions. The breadth of the issues at stake in the sphere of corporate social responsibility has its “common thread” in the need for businesses to legitimize themselves vis-à-vis the markets, the State and society in not only economic but also social terms. However, its traditional meaning refers to what the company does in a logic of “giving”, often incurring costs deemed functional to the enhancement of its image and reputation among its stakeholders. From this point of view, the CSR paradigm encompasses everything the company carries out in the interest and for the benefit of its stakeholders, gradually expanding over time the types of social and environmental benefits produced, but still remaining at the level of an “advanced philanthropy”. Furthermore, CSR activities have seen the company as the protagonist of a unilateral process of social value creation, with little or no consideration of the opportunities for creating social value that could derive from collaborative and coordinated action with other institutional and economic subjects. In parallel, and in more recent times than the affirmation of CSR, the paradigm of “social innovation” (SI) has established itself in the political and economic debate all over the world, starting from the limits of the economic development model based on blind trust in technical progress and globalization, and from the consequent need to place the theme of sustainable development at the center of the political and economic agenda. Social innovation arises from the aim of promoting every source and every possible driver of innovation that is observable not only from a technological and market point of view, but also from a social one. It concerns different types of actors: government, policy maker, public services, businesses, social enterprise, not-for-profit organization, NGO, etc., and it can be studied from different perspectives of observation, with different implications in the system of ends of each of these different subjects. In particular, social innovation is connected to social needs necessary for individuals, such as health, education, work, justice, etc.; tackles problems that governments around the world seem unable to address with effective solutions, such as climate change, global epidemics, chronic diseases, inequalities between countries, etc.; places people at the center of the debate on the concept of sustainable development; urges individuals, groups, political, social and economic institutions to search for new ideas that work in meeting social goals, also through the integration and coordination of the resources that different subjects can use in the production of social innovation. In light of these premises, this study aims to highlight the relationship that exists between the two paradigms of CSR and SI and, in particular, how these can find a convergence in the new paradigm of Corporate Social Innovation (CSI) as conceptual framework for businesses, belonging to the logic of the competitive advantage. Methodologically, the study is conceptually developed on the basis of the prevailing international literature and secondary data on the CSR and Social Innovation domains. Findings of this ongoing study highlight that the CSI paradigm can be considered the “contextualization of social innovation to businesses”. In fact, it is based on the assumption of being able to combine the search for innovative solutions to address social and environmental problems with the growth of the business profits. In other words, CSI makes CSR evolve towards a much more incisive role than in the past, allowing companies to take a “pro-active” approach to social and environmental problems, and not limit themselves to the logic of “giving” and compliance with legal rules and general standards. Therefore, the CSI is the ground of innovation that allows to reach a socio-competitive synthesis, where both social and economic value are created at the same time, by exploiting new markets and new needs to achieve economic success. From this point of view, social issues do not remain on the sidelines of the businesses and are no longer cost generators for the company, but become central elements of profit opportunities; in practice, it is a question of making social innovation a profit driver.

FROM CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO CORPORATE SOCIAL INNOVATION

Popoli Paolo
Conceptualization
2021-01-01

Abstract

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become one of the most important domains in business management in recent decades, and nowadays it represents a dogma for all types of businesses. The meaning of CSR includes all activities, products, services, production and distribution processes that have a relevant impact on social and environmental conditions. The breadth of the issues at stake in the sphere of corporate social responsibility has its “common thread” in the need for businesses to legitimize themselves vis-à-vis the markets, the State and society in not only economic but also social terms. However, its traditional meaning refers to what the company does in a logic of “giving”, often incurring costs deemed functional to the enhancement of its image and reputation among its stakeholders. From this point of view, the CSR paradigm encompasses everything the company carries out in the interest and for the benefit of its stakeholders, gradually expanding over time the types of social and environmental benefits produced, but still remaining at the level of an “advanced philanthropy”. Furthermore, CSR activities have seen the company as the protagonist of a unilateral process of social value creation, with little or no consideration of the opportunities for creating social value that could derive from collaborative and coordinated action with other institutional and economic subjects. In parallel, and in more recent times than the affirmation of CSR, the paradigm of “social innovation” (SI) has established itself in the political and economic debate all over the world, starting from the limits of the economic development model based on blind trust in technical progress and globalization, and from the consequent need to place the theme of sustainable development at the center of the political and economic agenda. Social innovation arises from the aim of promoting every source and every possible driver of innovation that is observable not only from a technological and market point of view, but also from a social one. It concerns different types of actors: government, policy maker, public services, businesses, social enterprise, not-for-profit organization, NGO, etc., and it can be studied from different perspectives of observation, with different implications in the system of ends of each of these different subjects. In particular, social innovation is connected to social needs necessary for individuals, such as health, education, work, justice, etc.; tackles problems that governments around the world seem unable to address with effective solutions, such as climate change, global epidemics, chronic diseases, inequalities between countries, etc.; places people at the center of the debate on the concept of sustainable development; urges individuals, groups, political, social and economic institutions to search for new ideas that work in meeting social goals, also through the integration and coordination of the resources that different subjects can use in the production of social innovation. In light of these premises, this study aims to highlight the relationship that exists between the two paradigms of CSR and SI and, in particular, how these can find a convergence in the new paradigm of Corporate Social Innovation (CSI) as conceptual framework for businesses, belonging to the logic of the competitive advantage. Methodologically, the study is conceptually developed on the basis of the prevailing international literature and secondary data on the CSR and Social Innovation domains. Findings of this ongoing study highlight that the CSI paradigm can be considered the “contextualization of social innovation to businesses”. In fact, it is based on the assumption of being able to combine the search for innovative solutions to address social and environmental problems with the growth of the business profits. In other words, CSI makes CSR evolve towards a much more incisive role than in the past, allowing companies to take a “pro-active” approach to social and environmental problems, and not limit themselves to the logic of “giving” and compliance with legal rules and general standards. Therefore, the CSI is the ground of innovation that allows to reach a socio-competitive synthesis, where both social and economic value are created at the same time, by exploiting new markets and new needs to achieve economic success. From this point of view, social issues do not remain on the sidelines of the businesses and are no longer cost generators for the company, but become central elements of profit opportunities; in practice, it is a question of making social innovation a profit driver.
978-605-74234-9-8
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11367/101733
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