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O'Connor & Hall

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Social Responsibility

What does social responsibility mean? The answer to that question would depend on “who” you ask. In other words, a Liberal, Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Progressive, Tea-Party, Asian, American Indian, Marxist, Socialist, Rastafarian, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, Educated, Uneducated, Rich, Poor, Middle-class, Lumberjack, Environmentalist, etc. would certainly provide different definitions for the meaning of social responsibility. In addition, the answer to what does social responsibility means also has to do with “when” the question is asked. For example, an answer is effected by world events such as a military war (Civil War, World War II, Vietnam, Gulf War, etc.) or natural disaster (Katrina, Gulf oil leak, etc.). Of course, having said the above...answers to the meaning of social responsibility vary depending on demographics. For instance, people living in Louisiana that endured Katrina (natural disaster) may define the meaning of social responsibility different than say someone living in the hinterlands of Switzerland. However, according to one scholarly article written by the astute David Cooperrider (2008), a socially responsible world would mean a world that is powered through renewable energy innovations, has eliminated toxic byproducts and waste, is globally inclusive, has eradicated extreme poverty and preventable disease, has created a green restorative economy that purifies the air we breathe, encourages collaboration and inspires multi-stakeholder innovation, while bringing down energy costs, reducing risks, opening new markets, igniting customer passion and loyalty, stabilizing climate change and points to a mutually prosperous benefit for society and business. But, equally important, social responsibility means enabling “...our young people to see themselves as participants in one of the most creative episodes in management history...instill in them an overarching perspective and sense of purpose in relation to the sustainable value revolution” (Cooperrider, 2008, p.38).One could add that social responsibility means cultivating resilience, retaining and attracting talent, greater corporate focus on sustainability, and when talking about collaboration... collaboration across boundaries (conventional internal and external) that used to be sacrosanct (Berns, Townsend, Khayat, Balagopal, Reeves, Hopkins & Kruschwitz, 2009).


Berns, M., Townsend, A., Khayat, Z., Balagopal, B., Reeves, M., & Hopkins, M.S. et. al (2009). Sustainability and competitive advantage. MIT Sloan Management Review, 51(1), 19–26.

Cooperrider, D. (2008). Sustainable innovation. BizEd, 7(4), 32-38.

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