Going glocal with CSR

Going glocal with CSR:

Multilateral musings in Mexico

Blog by Wayne Visser

In some senses, my CSR quest world tour, which was the main inspiration behind The Quest for Sustainable Business, started back in December 2007, on a trip to Guatemala. The main purpose of the visit was to launch The A to Z of Corporate Social Responsibility at the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) annual conference on CSR. That was when the seed of the idea was planted—while talking to my colleague and co-author, Professor Dirk Matten, over a glass of celebratory champagne in the hotel bar late one night.

One of the greatest insights for me had come after a tour we had at a local sugar plantation. The company had prepared a presentation on its approach to CSR, and imagine my delight when I saw that it also had a CSR pyramid! The interesting thing, however, was that it was not Carroll’s CSR pyramid or a Prahalad and Hart’s BOP pyramid. Economic responsibility was still seen as most important, and depitcted as the bottom layer of the pyramid, but the next most important responsibility was to the families of the plantation’s employees. The third tier was community responsibility and, rather intriguingly, the apex of the pyramid was ‘engagement in responsible national policy development’.

Was that company right and others wrong in its interpretation of CSR? Of course, they were right. That is the beauty of ‘glocality’. It is not an ‘either–or’ mentality, but a ‘both–and’ approach. The other interesting observation is that they had formed a cooperative of farms in order to tackle CSR. Individually, they were too small to justify a sustainable business programme, but collectively, it made sense. This is one of the ways that SMEs can address sustainable business, through pooling their resources and collaborating.

I gained more insights into sustainable business and SMEs when I visited Mexico in 2008, at the invitation of Jorge Reyes, Director of the IDEARSE Centre at Anahuac University, which is doing some excellent work on the subject. In 2009, I was invited back to deliver the keynote address at its 7th International CSR Conference, and again in 2010 to run a workshop, so I got to know a little bit about its research programme.

In response to a government-sponsored project aimed at SME growth acceleration, IDEARSE put together an approach for supporting growth of the businesses through the implementation of a sustainable business administration model that would develop competitive advantages for the companies. Built into its business training programme, therefore, were six elements for SME development: self-regulation, stakeholders, human rights, environment, labour and social/community impact. Working with the supply chains of big brands such as Sony, Coca-Cola and Cemex, IDEARSE have taken more than many SMEs through the programme, with impressive results. On average across the six sustainable business dimensions, the SMEs improved from a score of 23% to 43%, while simultaneously showing average annual sales growth of 30%. They have effectively demonstrated that CSR is perfectly feasible for SMEs and may even be constructed as part of a growth and competitiveness strategy.

In 2008, on another trip to Mexico City …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/blog_csrwire6_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Going glocal with CSR: Multilateral musings in Mexico (blog)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-quest-for-sustainable-business”]Link[/button] The Quest for Sustainable Business (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2013) Going glocal with CSR: Multilateral musings in Mexico, Wayne Visser Blog Series, 24 July 2013.

 

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Glocality

Glocality:

Thinking Global and Acting Local in CSR

Blog by Wayne Visser

The term ‘glocal’ – a portmanteau of global and local – is said to come from the Japanese word dochakuka, which simply means global localization. Originally referring to a way of adapting farming techniques to local conditions, dochakuka evolved into a marketing strategy when Japanese businessmen adopted it in the 1980s.

It is said that the English word ‘glocal’ was first coined by Akio Morita, founder of Sony Corporation. In fact, in 2008, Sony Music Corporation even trademarked the phrase ‘go glocal’. Glocality was subsequently introduced and popularized in the West in the 1990s by sociologists Manfred Lange, Roland Robertson, Keith Hampton, Barry Wellman and Zygmunt Bauman.

The underlying concept of ‘think global, act local’ claims somewhat more varied origins. In a broad, abstract sense, it is captured in the ancient Hermetic idea of ‘as above, so below’ – the macrocosm is reflected in the microcosm and vice versa. Or as Goethe put it: ‘If (we) would seek comfort in the whole, (we) must learn to discover the whole in the smallest part.’ More concretely and recently, the Scots town planner and social activist Patrick Geddes applied the concept in his 1915 book Cities in Evolution, saying:

Local character is thus no mere accidental old-world quaintness, as its mimics think and say. It is attained only in course of adequate grasp and treatment of the whole environment, and in active sympathy with the essential and characteristic life of the place concerned.

Sometimes, glocality maintains its geographical rootedness. For example, Neighborhood Knowledge California is a project of the Advanced Policy Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, which serves as a state-wide, interactive website that assembles and maps a variety of databases that can be used in neighbourhood research. Its aim is to promote greater equity in housing and banking policy. In addition, it functions as a geographic repository for users to map their own communities by uploading their own datasets.

When and by whom the phrase ‘think global, act local’ was first applied to environmental issues is a matter of some dispute. It may have been introduced by David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth, in 1969, or by Rene Dubos as an advisor to the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment. Also, in 1979, Canadian futurist Frank Feather chaired a conference called ‘Thinking Globally, Acting Locally’. Whatever its origins, the notion of glocality has entered into the popular consciousness.

It was given its most visible and practical expression when the Rio Earth Summit issued Local Agenda 21 in 1992, which was a programme of action for applying the global principles of sustainable development in local contexts. Today, there is also a Glocalist magazine in Austria that offers a daily online newspaper, weekly digital magazine and monthly print magazine …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/blog_glocality_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Glocality: Thinking Global and Acting Local in CSR (blog)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Link[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2011) Glocality: Thinking Global and Acting Local in CSR, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 11 July 2011.

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