The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

To sign-up to receive the CSR Newsletters regularly during the fall and spring academic semesters, e-mail author David Chandler at

Monday, September 26, 2016

Strategic CSR - Best Buy

At present, there is a cost to recycling e-waste (Chapter 13, p297). Given the drop in global commodity prices in materials such as copper and plastics, it remains significantly cheaper to buy these components on the open market than it is to strip down used consumer electronics goods and recycle the components that can be salvaged. In spite of this, Best Buy, the consumer electronics retailer, sees value in establishing a reputation for itself as the most progressive recycler of e-waste among retailers:
"To date, the retailer has accepted junky gadgets and appliances from anyone – not just customers – for free."
As discussed in the article in the url below, for Best Buy the commitment is far from symbolic. In particular:
"In its annual report last year, the retailer said it had collected more than 126m pounds of consumer electronics and 110m pounds of appliances during that fiscal year, helping it meet its goal of collecting 1bn pounds of electronic waste. The company has since vowed to double that number by 2020."
As a result of current market conditions, however, the firm is beginning to reconsider its recycling model:
"Earlier this month, the retailer announced it would start charging customers $25 for every television and computer monitor dropped off at a retail outlet as part of its in-store recycling program. Because of this, Best Buy will no longer accept television and computer monitors from customers in Pennsylvania and Illinois, as both states prohibit companies from collecting fees to help defray recycling costs. It will still recycle hundreds of other items for free."
Laura Bishop, vice president of public affairs and sustainability at Best Buy, sees this area as becoming increasingly challenging for Best Buy and, at some point, will cross over from being a competitive advantage to a distinct disadvantage relative to its competitors:
"'E-waste volume is rising, commodity prices are falling and global outlets for recycled glass, a key component of TVs televisions and monitors, have dramatically declined,' she wrote. 'More and more cities and counties have cut their recycling programs for budget reasons, limiting consumer options even further. While providing recycling solutions for our customers is a priority, Best Buy should not be the sole e-cycling provider in any given area, nor should we assume the entire cost.' … Many of Best Buy's biggest competitors, such as Amazon and Walmart, don't offer recycling, or their programs don't cover nearly as many personal gadgets and household items. Staples runs a similar recycling program to Best Buy, but it has a more modest goal of recycling 40m pounds of e-waste by 2020."
It is only reasonable to expect firms to promote recycling if that is behavior that is rewarded by stakeholders. Whether government or customers or employees (or some other stakeholder), it is up to us to make it in Best Buy's interests to become a leader in this field. In other words, it is stakeholder response that determines whether this (or any) action can form the basis for a competitive advantage. If stakeholders provide that incentive, Best Buy will lead and its competitors will soon follow.
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:

Best Buy's e-cycle program is ambitious, successful and financially unsustainable
By Alison Moodie
February 23, 2016
The Guardian

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Strategic CSR - Anthropocene

The article in the url below announces the dawn of a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene. This new epoch, which is estimated to have begun in 1950, is the result of human impact on the planet's ecosystem and replaces the Holocene epoch:
"The current epoch, the Holocene, is the 12,000 years of stable climate since the last ice age during which all human civilisation developed. But the striking acceleration since the mid-20th century of carbon dioxide emissions and sea level rise, the global mass extinction of species, and the transformation of land by deforestation and development mark the end of that slice of geological time, the experts argue. The Earth is so profoundly changed that the Holocene must give way to the Anthropocene."
The graphic accompanying the article demonstrates the short period of the planet's history within which humans have existed. Of course, this also ably demonstrates how we have been able to screw things up in such a short period of time:
The designation of a new geological epoch is something that is not taken lightly. Currently, the proposal to label the current period 'Anthropocene' is before the International Geographic Congress, which met recently in Cape Town:
"To define a new geological epoch, a signal must be found that occurs globally and will be incorporated into deposits in the future geological record. … For the Anthropocene, the best candidate for such a [signal] are radioactive elements from nuclear bomb tests, which were blown into the stratosphere before settling down to Earth. … Other [signals] being considered as evidence of the onset of the Anthropocene include the tough, unburned carbon spheres emitted by power stations. … Other candidates include plastic pollution, aluminium and concrete particles, and high levels of nitrogen and phosphate in soils, derived from artificial fertilisers."
There are still several steps in the process that need to be taken before the new label can be officially declared:
"The 35 scientists on the WGA [working group seeking to define the new epoch] – who voted 30 to three in favour of formally designating the Anthropocene, with two abstentions – will now spend the next two to three years determining which signals are the strongest and sharpest. Crucially, they must also decide a location which will define the start of the Anthropocene. Geological divisions are not defined by dates but by a specific boundary between layers of rock or, in the case of the Holocene, a boundary between two ice layers in a core taken from Greenland and now stored in Denmark. … Once the data has been assembled, it will be formally submitted to the stratigraphic authorities and the Anthropocene could be officially adopted within a few years. … Despite the WGA's expert recommendation, the declaration of the Anthropocene is not yet a foregone conclusion."
Whether or not the new epoch is approved, the evidence supporting the devastating effect of human existence on the planet's evolution is not in dispute. As the article concludes, human activity has:
- "Pushed extinction rates of animals and plants far above the long-term average."
- "Increased levels of climate-warming CO2 in the atmosphere at the fastest rate for 66m years."
- "Put so much plastic in our waterways and oceans that microplastic particles are now virtually ubiquitous."
- "Doubled the nitrogen and phosphorous in our soils in the past century with fertiliser use."
- "Left a permanent layer of airborne particulates in sediment and glacial ice such as black carbon from fossil fuel burning."
Whatever we call the period in which we dominate life on Earth, the challenge is to see if we can rectify some of the damage before it is too late.
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:

The Anthropocene epoch: Scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age
By Damian Carrington
August 29, 2016
The Guardian

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Strategic CSR - Values

The article in the url below explores the muddy waters of company values. In a somewhat sarcastic manner, it questions the value of values, both for the company that adopts them and the employees who are supposed to embody them:
"Maitland, the financial PR company, has just finished an audit of the values of the FTSE 100, and found that three words — integrity, respect and innovation — crop up over and over again. What a splendid trio they sound. Alas, all are duds. Integrity is particularly feeble. It makes no sense to assert integrity as a value, as no one would ever dream of asserting the reverse. Respect sounds good, but is meaningless unless it is made clear (as it never is) who is meant to be respected. Some people deserve respect; others do not. And innovation makes its way on to the list more as a wish from frumpy companies to be seen as a little groovier."
Apart from the fact that few employees remember what their company's values are, the author suggests that the main problem with espoused values is that they make companies sound desperate. Moreover, they expose companies to charges of hypocrisy as soon as someone in the firm breaks the values:
"First, self-describing is always dodgy. If someone goes out of their way to tell me they are honest or creative, I immediately conclude the reverse. Second, far from being a point of difference, values make every company look the same, as there is only a finite list of desirable corporate traits. And third, public professions are a hostage to fortune. Volkswagen must be ruing the day it made 'sustainability' a core value."
Further critiquing the report, the author concludes that, rather than seeking the ideal set of values, companies should abandon the search altogether:
"The report then questions how many values a company should have and concludes — entirely arbitrarily — that the perfect number is four. For me the ideal number is zero. Values may be important, but they are also slippery. The minute anyone tries to write them down they become trite and unhelpful."
As evidence in support of her argument, the author presents some compelling data:
"Seventeen of Britain's 100 biggest companies are sensible enough to have no values at all — or at least none they care to disclose on their websites. And how do they get along without them? … I asked [the FT's] statistics department to crunch some numbers for me and compare an index made up of the 17 values refuseniks with one made of 83 who are toeing the line. … Over the past 10 years the 17 valueless companies have outperformed the others in the FTSE 100 Index by about 70 per cent."
For the graph revealing this disparity in performance, see:
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
Hands up if you can list what your company's values are
By Lucy Kellaway
October 5, 2015
Financial Times
Late Edition – Final

Friday, September 16, 2016

Strategic CSR - Lobbying

The article in the url below indicates the extent of what we are up against in the fight to establish climate change as the preeminent threat facing humanity today:
"ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch/Shell, and three oil-industry groups together spend $115 million a year on advocacy designed to 'obstruct' climate change policy, according to new estimates released by Influence Map, a British nonprofit research organization."

In particular:
"ExxonMobil's 'direct spending on climate obstruction,' according to [Influence Map's] report, may be $27 million a year. Shell's estimated spending is $22 million. The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's U.S. trade group, may spend up to $65 million a year, and two smaller groups—the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association—are estimated to spend about $9 million together."

In contrast:
"Investor groups that push for strong climate policies spend less than $5 million a year on advocacy."
Although there is some indication that energy companies are beginning to shift their position on climate change (in particular, Exxon's support for a carbon tax), we still have not worked out how we are going to prevent these companies from exploiting all of their known reserves. For more detail on how the oil lobby seeks to obstruct progress on climate change policy, see the chart accompanying the article:
Have a good weekend
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
Trying to Put a Price on Big Oil's 'Climate Obstruction' Efforts
By Eric Roston
April 6, 2016
Bloomberg Businessweek

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Strategic CSR - McDonald's

In my strategic management course this spring, a student reminded me of the McDonald's Peace Theory – the idea that no countries that have McDonald's stores within their borders have ever gone to war with each other. The theory came from Thomas Friedman of The New York Times and can be traced to the article in the url below, which he wrote in 1996:
"So I've had this thesis for a long time and came here to Hamburger University at McDonald's headquarters to finally test it out. The thesis is this: No two countries that both have a McDonald's have ever fought a war against each other. The McDonald's folks confirmed it for me. I feared the exception would be the Falklands war, but Argentina didn't get its first McDonald's until 1986, four years after that war with Britain. Civil wars don't count: McDonald's in Moscow delivered burgers to both sides in the fight between pro-and anti-Yeltsin forces in 1993. Since Israel now has a kosher McDonald's, since Saudi Arabia's McDonald's closes five times a day for Muslim prayer, since Egypt has 18 McDonald's and Jordan is getting its first, the chances of a war between them are minimal. But watch out for that Syrian front. There are no Big Macs served in Damascus. India-Pakistan? I'm still worried. India, where 40 percent of the population is vegetarian, just opened the first beefless McDonald's (vegetable nuggets!), but Pakistan is still a Mac-free zone."
The theory held for quite some time and is a testament, not to the unifying power of McDonald's 'food' (with 'food' placed firmly in inverted commas), but to the power of capitalism to promote societal progress. It was broken only recently after Russia invaded Ukraine:
"Obviously, I say all this tongue in cheek. But there was enough of a correlation for me to ask James Cantalupo, president of McDonald's International and its de facto Secretary of State, what might be behind this Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention -- which stipulates that when a country reaches a certain level of economic development, when it has a middle class big enough to support a McDonald's, it becomes a McDonald's country, and people in McDonald's countries don't like to fight wars; they like to wait in line for burgers. Or as Mr. Cantalupo puts it: 'We focus our development on the more well-developed economies -- those that are growing and those that are large -- and the risks involved in being adventuresome [for those growing economies] are probably getting too great.'"
What is also interesting is that, following Russia's invasion, McDonald's closed its three stores in Crimea in 2014 and withdrew from the country (see here). As the company said at the time:
"Like many other multi-national companies, McDonald's is currently evaluating potential business and regulatory implications which may result from the evolving situation in Crimea. … We believe it is prudent and responsible to sort through these details thoroughly. Additionally, due to the suspension of necessary financial and banking services, we have no option but to close our three restaurants in Crimea. It is important to note that this is strictly a business decision which has nothing to do with politics. We are taking numerous steps to support our employees during this time. We hope to reopen our restaurants soon so we can welcome back our loyal customers. "
This discussion in my class arose in response to a quote from Micklethwait and Wooldridge's great book, The Company: A Short History of  Revolutionary Idea (2003, pxv), which I assign as a reading for my students:
"The most important organization in the world is the company: the basis of the prosperity of the West and the best hope for the future of the rest of the world."
The idea of that particular class is to discuss the history of the corporation, how it evolved to where it is today (a result of a series of deliberate political and judicial decisions), in order to better understand why concepts like the LLC, limited liability, corporate personhood, boards of directors, and investor relations with the firm all exist in the way that they do today. The point more relevant to this Newsletter, however, is the status of the corporation as the dominant institution of our time. This lies in contrast to the state, the political party, the Church, and the family as dominant institutions of previous times. While the 'value' of specific corporations to society will vary (and, in my opinion, McDonald's does not rank very highly), the broader point about the power of capitalism to advance societies and the danger of authoritarian governments to impede societies is reinforced powerfully by the McDonald's Peace Theory. As Friedman notes:
"In the 1950's and 60's developing countries thought that having an aluminum factory and a U.N. seat was what made them real countries, but today many countries think they will have arrived only if they have their own McDonald's and Windows 95 in their own language."
I am sure there are more elevated signals of 'progress.' Nevertheless, those metrics (assuming the latest version of Windows) are as good as any others in determining what counts as progress today in many countries that wish they had economies as developed as ours, along with the companies that generate that progress:
"Said Mr. Cantalupo: 'I feel these countries want McDonald's as a symbol of something -- an economic maturity and that they are open to foreign investments. I don't think there is a country out there we haven't gotten inquiries from. I have a parade of ambassadors and trade representatives in here regularly to tell us about their country and why McDonald's would be good for the country.'"
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
Foreign Affairs Big Mac I
By Thomas L Friedman
December 8, 1996
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final

Monday, September 12, 2016

Strategic CSR - Whistleblowing

The article in the url below reminds us of the potential unintended consequences of good intentions. The article reports research recently published in an accounting journal that suggests that when firms promote anti-retaliation protections in order to encourage the reporting of ethics and compliance transgressions, it can actually have an effect that is opposite to what was intended:
"Anti-retaliation protections are the bedrock of whistleblower rights, but explicit reminders that employees don't have to fear for their jobs when reporting concerns may do more harm than good, a recent study found."
In particular:
"The study … found that in a group of students qualified as staff-level auditors, people were about 17% more likely to report information if explicit anti-retaliation references were not made in a scenario involving corporate conduct violations."
The reason, it is argued, is that reminding people they are protected from retaliation actually serves primarily to emphasize that reporting transgressions is inherently risky. In other words, by reminding people they cannot be fired if they report, you are actually reminding them that there is a risk they might be fired (and that they would then have to go to the trouble of suing their employer in order to be reinstated and compensated). As the authors of the research conclude:
"To our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate that promoting explicit whistleblower protections can have the unintended consequence of actually inhibiting reporting of misconduct by intensifying the perceived risk of retaliation. As such, our results have important implications for the promotion of whistleblower reporting in audit settings."
But what exactly are those implications? Are we suggesting that firms should not reassure their employees they want them to come forward to report transgressions and have put in place specific protections as proof of those intentions? Should firms not even mention that they want transgressions to be reported, or set-up reporting tools (like an anonymous helpline), and just hope that whistleblowers will come forward as a result of their own volition?
Hmmmmmm, humans are difficult beings to work with (and to try and manipulate).
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
Anti-retaliation Reminders May Deter Whistleblowing
By Stephen Dockery
March 23, 2016
The Wall Street Journal

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Strategic CSR - Facebook

The article in the url below demonstrates (more specifically than most discussions I have seen) the real effects of corporate tax avoidance/evasion (e.g., Apple’s recent spat with the EU). It does so particularly effectively by contrasting the amount of taxes paid by small business with the amount of taxes paid by large multi-nationals. Specifically, it contrasts the amount of tax paid by Steven Lewis (a small business owner of a cafĂ© in Crickhowell, Wales) with the amount of tax paid by Facebook for its operations throughout the whole of the UK:
“Mr. Lewis said he paid the 21 percent corporate tax rate on his profits last year, equivalent to 31,000 pounds, or $45,200. By contrast, Facebook — which is based in the United States but does business in Britain and is therefore subject to British taxes — paid just £4,327, or $6,274, in corporate tax in 2014, or about one-seventh of what Mr. Lewis paid. Facebook’s bill was also less than the average personal income tax payment and the national insurance contributions that individual British employees pay, which amount to about $7,800 a year for someone making the median income of $40,000.”
As a result of this discrepancy, Mr Lewis is leading a “revolt” of the small businesses in this small Welsh town:
“Mr. Lewis, 63, a broad-chested former military man, has helped turn Crickhowell into ground zero for a revolt by small-business owners in Britain against a tax system they see as rigged against them in favor of multinational corporations like Facebook, Google and Starbucks. The town, population 2,063, has become famous for being one of Britain’s last holdouts against the encroachment of big retail chains.”
Unfortunately, I think the revolutionaries have misidentified the culprit that is the main cause of the problem:
“Mr. Lewis, who retired from the army as a major and fought in Northern Ireland and the Middle East, is working with his regiment of shopkeepers to stoke public indignation across Britain so that consumers, and ultimately shareholders, will pressure company executives to change the way they do business.”
While this is certainly a possible outcome, it is an indirect route to instituting change. Rather than the businesses (which are merely employing strategic assets to exploit loopholes for competitive advantage), the real target should be the government that wrote the flawed laws (either deliberately or incompetently) in the first place. It is the government that has the power to change the situation by rewriting the laws, if it chooses to do so. Mr Lewis is at least being creative in his protests:
“His most recent effort at consciousness-raising came late last year, when he tried to replicate a favored financial tactic of multinationals and have Crickhowell and its businesses incorporate in tax havens. No dice, said the British tax authorities: Towns, unlike companies, are not allowed to register offshore, and Crickhowell’s small businesses did not meet the legal definitions necessary to qualify for such a move.”
Either way, the effect on the UK economy of corporate tax manipulation is significant:
“Britain’s tax authority, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, said in a recent report that the amount of tax lost to Britain because of avoidance schemes was an estimated $4.3 billion in 2014.”
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
Welsh Town Revolts Against Taxes and Chains
By Kimiko De Freytas-Tamura
February 22, 2016
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Strategic CSR - Amazon

The article in the url below demonstrates some of the environmental consequences of moving a significant proportion of our commerce online:
"Overall, the $350 billion e-commerce industry has doubled in the last five years, with Amazon setting the pace. Its Prime membership service has grown to more than 50 million subscribers, by one estimate. (And its new faster service, Prime Now, can 'get customers pretty much anything in minutes,' its website says)."
But Amazon is not the only player in this space. Google's Express service promises to deliver in under two hours in certain cities, while firms like Uber are branching out to compete with FedEx and UPS in package delivery. In all cases, lots of cardboard is necessary:
"The environmental cost can include the additional cardboard — 35.4 million tons of containerboard were produced in 2014 in the United States, with e-commerce companies among the fastest-growing users — and the emissions from increasingly personalized freight services."
While e-commerce uses a lot of cardboard, the challenge in calculating the net environmental impact is to identify exactly how much more cardboard is used than in regular commerce. Perhaps more accurately, how much carbon is saved if consumers shop from their home (as opposed to driving to the store) and does that offset the carbon used to deliver packages, as well as the cardboard used and all the other variables that make up the energy we use every day in our complex economic systems? Either way, what is clear is that we are discarding greater and greater amounts of cardboard – growth that is indicated by the growing demands being placed on recycling facilities:
"Recology, San Francisco's main recycling plant collects 100 tons of cardboard every day."
Also included in the calculation is the carbon footprint of all the data centers needed to support e-commerce. This is why Microsoft's exploration of underwater data centers is fascinating (see here) – an innovation driven primarily by three factors: providing more consistent cooling, reducing electricity bills while also generating alternative electricity (using tidal power), and reducing the firm's carbon footprint.
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
A Convenient Truth About E-Commerce
By Matt Richtel
February 16, 2016
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Strategic CSR - Productivity

The article in the url below reports the results of a fascinating piece of research that raises challenging questions for the American work ethic:
"For about a year, nurses at the Svartedalens retirement home have worked six-hour days on an eight-hour salary. They're part of an experiment funded by the Swedish government to see if a shorter workday can increase productivity. The conclusion? It does."
For a while, I have been aware of research showing that French workers are more productive than American workers. In other words, American workers produce more than French workers in total purely because they work more hours. On a per person, per hour basis, however, French workers are more efficient and productive. The study reported in the article in the url below provides additional empirical support for that thesis:
"As with any cultural shift in the workplace, the six-hour day has to prove itself more than just humane. For any employer, in Sweden or elsewhere (and perhaps especially in the U.S.), an abridged workweek can't damage productivity if it's going to have a chance. A year's worth of data from the project, which compares staff at Svartedalens with a control group at a similar facility, showed that 68 nurses who worked six hour days took half as much sick time as those in the control group. And they were 2.8 times less likely to take any time off in a two-week period, said Bengt Lorentzon, a researcher on the project."
There is also evidence to suggest that the quality of the care being provided by the nurses increased (in addition to the quantity):
"Less surprising was that the nurses were 20 percent happier and had more energy at work and in their spare time. This allowed them to do 64 percent more activities with elderly residents, one of the metrics researchers used to measure productivity."
At present, the American worker is far from a six-hour day:
"Even with encouraging results, it's unlikely that the U.S. will soon shift to shorter days. Americans work around 38.6 hours per week, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. They get, on average, fewer than eight paid vacation days a year; only about three-quarters of workers get any paid time off at all, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics."
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
The Six-hour Workday Works in Europe. What about America?
By Rebecca Greenfield
May 10, 2015
Bloomberg Businessweek

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Strategic CSR - Beer pipeline

The article in the url below presents an innovative approach to reducing congestion in Bruges, Belgium:
"Xavier Vanneste, heir to a dynasty of beer brewers in this medieval city, had a pipe dream. When he woke up and looked out of his window one spring morning, he saw workers on the street laying underground utility cables in front of his house, situated on the same ancient square as the brewery he runs. 'I immediately realized this was the solution,' Mr. Vanneste said. The brewery's truck fleet had been bottling up the city's narrow, cobblestone streets. Matters had been getting worse since 2010, when the brewery moved its bottling facility out of town. His brain wave? A beer pipeline."
Four years after he first imagined it, the pipeline is no longer a dream. It opened this summer:
"It stretches 2 miles from the brewery, De Halve Maan, or The Half Moon, in the city center to the bottling plant in an industrial area. It will be able to carry 1,500 gallons of beer an hour at 12 mph. Hundreds of truck trips a year will no longer be necessary."
In addition to the innovative means of distribution, the project was funded via a creative, ground-up financing model:
"The citywide attention gave Mr. Vanneste another idea. He'd partly fund the €4 million ($4.5 million) investment by offering lifetime supplies of beer. Attracted by the liquid returns, brew-lovers sank some €300,000 into the project. They were offered three options. The most expensive 'gold' membership, which costs €7,500, entitles the holder to an 11-ounce bottle of Brugse Zot beer (retail price, €1.70) every day for life, along with 18 personalized glasses."
I see more beer bonds in our future, as well as a beer pipeline in every major city! All, of course, in the interests of reducing traffic congestion:
"The city of Bruges, which last year attracted 6.6 million tourists, has long been looking for solutions to reduce traffic in its historic center—a Unesco World Heritage site known for its canals and medieval architecture. 'The pipeline is a breakthrough,' said Renaat Landuyt, mayor of Bruges, which was the economic capital of Northern Europe between 1200 and 1400. Mr. Landuyt said he would even consider constructing pipelines for other goods, including chocolate, one of Belgium's other precious commodities."
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
Brewery Builds a Pipeline, Sending Beer Lovers Into a Froth
By Matthias Verbergt
May 5, 2016
The Wall Street Journal

Friday, August 26, 2016

Strategic CSR - Facebook

The article in the url below raises a fascinating question about our increasingly virtual and shared lives:
"That photo of your toddler running around in a nappy or having a temper tantrum? Think before you post it on Facebook. That's the advice from French authorities, which have warned parents in France they could face fines of up to €45,000 (£35,000) and a year in prison for publishing intimate photos of their children on social media without permission, as part of the country's strict privacy laws."
Given the extent of the problem, it is not hard to imagine a scenario where some children seek redress for photos that subsequently are deemed too embarrassing and, potentially, a constraint on their lives once they become adults (e.g., affecting employment possibilities, dating even?):
"A 2015 study by internet company Nominet found parents in the UK post nearly 200 photos of their under fives online every year, meaning a child will feature in around 1,000 online photos before their fifth birthday."
Something that should create pause for thought before your next online post:
"'Your favourite picture of your child sitting on the potty for the first time may not be their favourite picture of themselves when they're 13,' says author and child psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair."
Have a good weekend
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
Could children one day sue parents for posting baby pics on Facebook?
By Nicole Kobie
May 8, 2016
The Guardian

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Strategic CSR - Welcome back!

Welcome back to the Strategic CSR Newsletter!
The first CSR Newsletter of the Fall semester is below.
As always, your comments and ideas are welcome.
The Newsletters this semester begin with the article in the url below, which contains a stunning number that emerged over the summer:
"BP PLC said its costs from the deadly 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill would rise by an additional $5.2 billion and ultimately cost $61.6 billion to put one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history behind it."
Acting according to the expectations of stakeholders is a surprisingly difficult message to convey to large corporations. But, if there is ever a compelling argument to focus on building an ethical organizational culture that encourages investment in the short-term in order to create broad-based value over the medium to long-term, BP would seem to be it:
"The British oil giant said on Thursday the pretax charge for its second quarter likely would be the last from the Deepwater Horizon accident to have a 'material impact' on its financial performance, signaling an end to six years of mounting costs that humbled one of the world's largest energy companies."
To put this number of $61.6 billion into some kind of context:
"BP's costs are much larger than the fines levied on individual banks involved in the subprime mortgage crisis last decade or the 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill, which cost the U.S. company $4.3 billion."
The graphic accompanying the article ( compares BP's penalty to those of other firms that caused environmental disasters in the US. While these fines are not inflation-adjusted, the contrast remains striking:
- Three Mile Island (1979): $1 billion
- Hudson River PCB contamination (1970s): $1.6 billion
- Exxon-Valdez oil spill (1989): $4.3 billion
- Deepwater Horizon oil spill (2010): $61.6 billion
Hope you all have a good semester.
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:

BP's Gulf-spill Tab Hits $62 Billion
By Michael Amon and Tapan Panchal
July 15, 2016
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final

Friday, June 24, 2016

Strategic CSR - 4e

I hope your summer is going well.
This Newsletter is just to let you know that the fourth edition of Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation is now published. Review copies are available on the book's website:
In addition to all the new and updated content, Sage and I worked hard to improve the instructor resources that accompany this edition. These support resources are available online ( and include materials for both instructors (password protected) and students:
Answers to in-text questions
PowerPoint slides
Test bank (very comprehensive – a big thank you to John Tichenor for his help with this)
Lecture notes (including suggested answers to end of chapter discussion questions and Strategic CSR debate motions)
Sample syllabi
Issues and case studies from the third edition
Film/video resources
Discussion questions
Film/video resources
Blog archive of the CSR Newsletter (
Of course, if you have any questions about the 4e, please feel free to contact me at any time.
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Strategic CSR - South Park

This is the last CSR Newsletter of the Spring semester.
Have a great summer and I will see you in August!
The video in the url below is an old episode of the cartoon South Park that addresses the dominance of Walmart:
For all its crude humor, the show makes an insightful point about the underlying nature of Walmart. The firm is not an independent entity that acts and thinks (as it is so often portrayed by the CSR community); it is a reflection of the society in which it operates (a reflection of its collective set of stakeholders). This is why, in the cartoon, the "heart of Walmart" is a mirror. To put this another way, it is not Walmart that "puts Mom and Pop stores out of business," but society that does that. If Walmart's stakeholders (consumers, employees, local governments, etc.) did not see value in what Walmart does, the store would not exist. The fact that it does exist and is as successful as it is (90% of U.S. households shop there at least once a year) therefore says more about the values that are dominant in society today than almost any other business. It is a 'truth' that many CSR advocates appear reluctant to recognize. If we want Walmart to go away, we need to stop supporting it. If we want the big-box store to remain as a successful and dominant business reality (in whatever form it takes, Walmart, Target, K-Mart, Aldi, Primark, etc.), we need to keep doing exactly what we are currently doing.
Have a great summer.
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:

Monday, May 2, 2016

Strategic CSR - Ideological bias

The article in the url below explores an interesting question:
"Are liberals impairing our ability to combat climate change?"
The premise for the question is that everyone has biases, we are just selective in favoring those sources of information that match our particular biases. In other words, we support something when it complements our view of the world and find ways to undermine it when it challenges that view. For example, the widespread belief today (particularly among the left) is that conservatives pose the largest impediment to progress on climate change because they are 'anti-science.' This article suggests that, contrary to this view, there is anti-science bias all along the political spectrum:
"… even as progressive environmentalists wring their hands at the G.O.P.'s climate change denial, there are biases on the left that stray just as far from the scientific consensus. 'The left is turning anti-science,' Marc Andreessen, the creator of Netscape who as a venture capitalist has become one of the most prominent thinkers of Silicon Valley, told me not long ago. He was reflecting broadly about science and technology. His concerns ranged from liberals' fear of genetically modified organisms to their mistrust of technology's displacement of workers in some industries."
Further, the article suggests that it is in relation to the environment that liberal bias is particularly damaging:
"For starters, [liberals] stand against the only technology with an established track record of generating electricity at scale while emitting virtually no greenhouse gases: nuclear power. Only 35 percent of Democrats, compared with 60 percent of Republicans, favor building more nuclear power plants, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center. It is the G.O.P. that is closer to the scientific consensus. According to a separate Pew poll of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 65 percent of scientists want more nuclear power too."
To put it more bluntly in relation to the current U.S. presidential campaign:
"Ted Cruz's argument that climate change is a hoax to justify a government takeover of the world is absurd. But Bernie Sanders's argument that 'toxic waste byproducts of nuclear plants are not worth the risks of the technology's benefit' might also be damaging."
And it is not difficult to demonstrate the extent to which people are selective in their appreciation of science. In short, it is not that people are ignorant or unexposed to scientific discoveries, but that they simply refuse to believe them because they conflict with their larger ideological perspective:
"People on the right tend to like private businesses, which they see as productive job creators. They mistrust government. It's not surprising they will play down climate change when it seems to imply a package of policies that curb the actions of the former and give a bigger role to the latter. On the left, by contrast, people tend to mistrust corporations — especially big ones — as corrupt and destructive. These are the institutions bringing us both nuclear power and genetically modified agriculture."
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
Climate Change Bias, But on Both Sides
By Eduardo Porter
April 20, 2016
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Strategic CSR - 4e

I am happy to announce that the fourth edition of Strategic CSR will be published over the summer. The title for this edition is Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation:
The new sub-title reflects the book's consolidation around the idea that is central to CSR – long-term value creation for the firm's broad range of stakeholders. Talking about CSR in this way (i.e., value creation) moves it from the periphery of the firm's activities, to strategic planning and core operations (and therefore the basis for everything the CEO and senior executives do, every day).
Apart from the usual updates, new Tables and Figures, and other new ideas, the major change in the 4e is to the book's structure. In particular, there are now five Parts, each consisting of three chapters and one case-study (see the abbreviated ToC pasted below). While the core of many of these chapters was drawn from material in the 3e, there are new sections in each chapter; there are also completely new chapters. As such, to ease the transition from the 3e to the 4e, I have prepared a Transition Guide as part of the instructor resources that summarizes each of the chapters and explains where they came from.
This change in structure was made primarily in response to demand from instructors to adapt the book for easier assignment over the long Fall/Spring semester. Thus, a larger number of shorter chapters was preferred to a smaller number of longer chapters. Overall, the 4e is considerably shorter than the 3e.
Thank you to those of you who were kind enough to review the 4e plan last year. Many of those suggestions are also included – I hope you all like the result.
Although the 4e will not be available until the summer (probably late June/early July), Sage is now accepting requests for review copies at the book's new website:
Of course if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time. Thank you, as always, for your support.
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation (4e) – Table of Contents
Part I – Corporate Social Responsibility
Chapter 1:  What is CSR?
Chapter 2:  The Driving Forces of CSR
Chapter 3:  Corporate Rights and Responsibilities
Case Study:  Religion
Part II – A Stakeholder Perspective
Chapter 4:  Stakeholder Theory
Chapter 5:  Corporate Stakeholder Responsibility
Chapter 6:  Who Owns The Corporation?
Case Study:  Impact Investing
Part III – An Economic Perspective
Chapter 7:  The Pursuit of Profit
Chapter 8:  Incentives and Compliance
Chapter 9:  Accountability
Case Study:  Financial Crisis
Part IV – A Strategic Perspective
Chapter 10:  Strategy + CSR
Chapter 11:  CSR as a Strategic Filter
Chapter 12:  Strategic CSR
Case Study:  Supply Chain
Part V – A Sustainable Perspective
Chapter 13:  Sustainability
Chapter 14:  Implementing CSR
Chapter 15:  Sustainable Value Creation
Case Study:  Employees