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CSR in Different Contexts

Executive Summary

Today, corporate social responsibility is attracting the attention of many organizations for a good reason. Organizations and businesses are responding to the increasing public concern over environmental issues and the flow of information through the internet. Organizations take into account the interests of shareholders, employees, customers, and the impact of their business operation on the environment.

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Over the last few years, different organizations have integrated CSR into their organizational activities and significantly improved their financial performance and productivity as the result. Corporate social responsibility is one of the key issues of the utmost priority at Pearson. Pearson’s stakeholders are calling for a review of its CSR strategy to implement a new sustainable one. The organization has realized how important CSR initiatives are and would like to add CRS to its existing efforts. Pearson will link CSR with its goals and objectives. This is to make sure that the organization generates business value as well as elevates a positive social change. It is not only the right thing for the organization to do, but it has a great impact on its growth and performance. Research suggests that the more the organization focuses on corporate social responsibility, the more streams of revenue it creates. Moreover, the organization gets a competitive advantage over the top competitors in the market. It will be amazing what will come to light once Pearson implements the proposed corporate social responsibility strategy. Its implementation at Pearson requires the consideration of many good options. Pearson needs to analyze and assess the key issues that affect the company’s day-to-day activities and operations to reach the best result.

CSR in Different Organizational and National Contexts

The significant role of corporate social responsibility differs and depends on either the organizational or the national contexts. The various definitions of CSR have been attributed to the fact that corporate social responsibility is exercised in multifarious organizations. To get a clear understanding of CRS and its relevance, it is important to analyze and explore the relevance and role of CSR in three main sectors of the modern economy including the private sector, civil sector, and public sector (Steenkamp, 2017, p 238). Research suggests that the concept of CSR has been adopted and implemented into the modern business world. It is important to integrate CSR in the national context to understand how CSR has been adopted and implemented by organizations across the globe.

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CSR and Public Sector

At a glance, someone may not expect corporate social responsibility to be the main concern for public sector organizations including agencies, administrative bodies, and government ministries (Steenkamp, 2017, p 238). However, there is a balance, since both private and public sectors must ensure corporate social responsibility. Governments across the globe supply commodities, especially in industrialized countries. Therefore, the demand to conduct activities in a socially responsible manner also applies to public sector organizations. All organizations, including the public sector ones, face related environmental claims, and demands. For instance, they all face similar claims on the expectations for responsible outsourcing, and equal opportunities for workers (Tai and Chuang, 2014, p. 117). As a result, public sector organizations are increasingly adopting and implementing CSR practices into their operations. The claims for CSR in public sector organizations such as schools, hospitals, and universities are more pronounced. CSR has been practically applied in schools and hospitals. This implies that they have been focusing on corporate social responsibility throughout their activities. Moreover, many public organizations are quasi-monopolistic in nature of their services and they are more likely to impact society. Public organizations are urged to publish annual CSR reports and social audits (Steenkamp, 2017, p. 238). In addition, many public entities participate actively in promoting CSR across their areas of influence. Even though CSR is regarded as a voluntary corporate activity, governments have always tried to create great incentives aimed at facilitating the voluntary adoption of CSR policies.

CSR and Private Sector

Private sector organizations are pressured to be more socially responsible in their operations and to use CSR instruments including reporting, and social auditing. The private sector is divided into large and SME organizations. CSR seems to be predominantly an issue of large organizations which are owned by shareholders and operated by managers who have been tasked with managing them. Large organizations have separate legal ownership and control, and they are more vulnerable than small organizations. In large organizations, CSR results in a formalized and fairly-structured approach (Tai and Chuang, 2014, p. 117). CSR policies in large entities turn into the employee/supplier code of conduct; managers and committees are responsible for CSR and documentation of annual reports. Large organizations are expected to release annual reports for their accountability, including how they deal with different expectations and interests of society. Research suggests that almost 62 percent of large organizations have implemented CSR in their operations as opposed to 20 percent in SME organizations. This disparity occurs as a result of various reasons. The first reason is that SMEs are small organizations managed by owners and CSR policies are instructed on a small number of employees. Secondly, SMEs are small and invisible in society for criticism (Tai and Chuang, 2014, p. 117). The managers have close relationships with society, thus, what is recognized as CSR in this context is aimed at creating trust and good personal relationships. Therefore, the literature review suggests that CSR has paid disproportionate attention to larger entities.

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CSR and Civil Sector

Governments encourage CSR to be adopted and implemented through various initiatives such as the European workers’ unions and charitable organizations. These organizations have invested great efforts in promoting and implementing CSR. The CSR claims on issues associated with the prevention of human rights violations, protection of the environment, and improvement of working conditions have been brought to the attention of the civil sector (Saeidi, Sofian, Saeidi, Saeidi & Saaeidi, 2015, p. 360). Traditionally, non-governmental organizations were not socially responsible for corporate misbehavior since they acted as watchdogs in CSR. For instance, the European Commission has taken an active role in promoting CSR in the civil sector. Non-governmental organizations have achieved continued growth and have millions of employees and multimillion budgets, thus increasing death and improving public accountability. These organizations need to be transparent about their funding, tactics, and causes. Implementation of CSR in the civil organization sector helps enhance transparency and accountability.

CSR in Developed Countries

When the practices and policies of CSR emerged, it was first adopted and implemented by most US organizations. The reason behind the implementation lies in the country’s business system. In the United States, business systems are characterized by unregulated markets for capital and labor, a high appreciation of people’s responsibility, and a low rate of welfare provision (Saeidi, Sofian, Saeidi, Saeidi & Saaeidi, 2015, p. 360). Through government policies, Americans have a greater tendency to deal with social issues. CSR has traditionally been considered an issue for the government. Other developed countries have also adopted CSR strategies in their business organizations, and have thus improved their performance.

CSR in Developing Countries

Developing countries are characterized by high levels of corruption, low standards in terms of environmental protection and working conditions, low levels of foreign direct investments and income, poor healthcare provisions, and poor provision of education. In response to these challenges, many organizations in these countries are developing interests in the adoption and implementation of CSR practices (Vertigans and Idowu, 2017, p. 50). This is to enhance the provision of infrastructure services in their education and healthcare systems as well as to serve as good governance. CSR plays a significant role in developing countries and requires stringent regulations for successful implementation.

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Theoretical Avenues and Diversity of Theoretical Concepts in CSR

The theoretical avenues seek to explore and investigate how gaps in society and businesses are constructed. They provide a clear understanding of the efficacy of CSR within the social setting. Organizations have a direct social responsibility in their operations to the natural environment in which they operate, both for the present and future generations. The integration of CSR in organizations has led to growth and development. It has led to the increased assessment of new markets across the globe. The number of large corporations that operate in the environments of the global markets has increased dramatically over the last few years (Ruggie, 2017, p. 32). By operating in the global markets, corporations have a greater potential for innovation and advancements.

Theoretical studies suggest that globalization seems like an irreversible trend in the business world. It has been argued that globalization usually leads to the destruction of the natural environment, increased abuse of human rights, and exploitation of developing countries. Organizations exploit the ecological and social environment in pursuit of increased business profits in the global market. Today, large corporations face many legal, ethical, and social issues, some of which are overwhelming, such as labor issues. Labor standards applicable in one country may not apply in another country. Additionally, the societal expectations and standards concerning working conditions differ. Organizations thus have to choose the fairest responsible option (Saeidi, Sofian, Saeidi, Saeidi & Saaeidi, 2015, p. 360). They have to adopt common standards worldwide or standards for the country in which they operate. The approach of CSR was established to address the social issues associated with globalization.

CSR does not deny the concept that businesses should generate more profits to expand their operations and grow. Corporations should take into consideration the processes through which money is generated to ensure sustained growth. The definition of CSR today differs from the one first created in the United States in the 1950s. The first definition was principally about the social effect of businesses (Lins, Servaes & Tamayo, 2017, p. 1744). Today, CSR incorporates all aspects that are perceived to be crucial for sustainable development in society. World Commission on Environment and Development defined CSR as “an improvement that meets the wants and needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of the future generation. As a result, CSR includes ecological, social and economic aspects”. Therefore, corporations need to generate profits by taking certain issues such as intergenerational and environmental concerns into consideration.

Since the model of CSR emerged and was adopted by international corporations, it has been developed further. The diversity of theoretic notions in CSR relates to the Civil Rights Movements that took place in the United States. This was when ethnic minorities fought for equality (May 2016, p. 217). Inequalities still exist today in organizations. For instance, in workplaces, diversity may be evident. Workers may receive unfair treatment in terms of promotions. Also, some people may be denied opportunities due to discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and religion. Such unfair treatments may negatively affect organizations’ effectiveness in terms of productivity and profitability. In any case, such practices are unethical and undesirable in organizational culture. Employees feel demotivated to work under such discriminative conditions.

Diversity approaches have been initiated to foster the insertion of diverse workers into the business cultures. It also extends to the inclusion of women in the workplace to create work balance. Women should be allowed equal opportunities in the workplace to promote work balance. Diversity creates a good work environment whereby employees with different and diverse talents are brought together for improved productivity (Lins, Servaes & Tamayo, 2017, p. 1744). Diversity is linked to CSR strategies in many organizations to ensure increased economic benefits. Today, strategies are being implemented by many organizations to ensure the inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds taking into consideration globalization, the potential for innovation, assessment of markets, international alliance, and the war for talent.

Pearson Strategic Approaches in CSR

There are different strategic approaches to corporate social responsibility, but companies may focus on one approach (Korschun, Bhattacharya & Swain, 2014, p 37). Pearson’s strategic approaches encompass various actions to be undertaken to bring a positive contribution to the organization. The strategic approaches of CSR focus on addressing the social needs in key areas such as human rights, labor practices, economic development, health and safety, and environmental stewardship in surrounding communities. The CSR strategic approach helps the organization adapt to the changing complex business world. The strategic approaches at Pearson include corporate philanthropy, exemplary business behavior, and community involvement.

Pearson's philanthropy strategy involves making contributions to organizations, individuals, and communities in need. The activities the organization performs to contribute to community integration involve environmental sustainability initiatives, sponsorship, and education grants. The organization spends nearly 5% of its generated profits to help surrounding local communities (Lins, Servaes & Tamayo, 2017, p. 1744). In addition, the organization also makes donations in kind. For instance, they contribute material items to children in need. The organization has to expand its philanthropy strategy to provide care for such children. Pearson helps spread its profit benefits by offering sponsorship and education grants to children in need. Apart from that, the organization has helped many people through earning.

The exemplary business behavior strategy serves as a model for corporate social responsibility at Pearson. It also shapes the economic and social trends that lead to better results for society and the environment in general. Pearson is a growing organization that strives to address environmental and social needs as well as their impacts on society. Social and environmental requirements and needs include advocating for equality regarding disability, efforts to reduce pollution, advocating for the use of renewable sources of energy, and energy-efficient products, and testing and reviewing information-technology products. The company employs people with disabilities, thus it has integrated the model into its operations (Salib, Sun, Wu, Wen, and Huang, 2015, p. 90). Another strategic approach is its involvement in community programs through volunteering. This type of corporate social responsibility is covered throughout the organization hierarchy. Pearson is known for its community involvement programs. The organization's employees are always supported with necessary resources as they participate in community development and empowerment programs. These local programs have been beneficial to the community.

Recommendations

Pearson sees CSR as a great opportunity to improve its business operations and increase profitability and growth. However, the challenge lies in execution, social welfare, and ecological responsibility. By partnering and collaborating with other organizations, the CSR practical implementation can work well. In the modern world, society places increasing importance on the concept of CSR. Organizational activities greatly affect society as a whole. Pearson should review its CSR strategies to strengthen its business processes while giving back to society. CSR is the central strategy that addresses key business challenges (Cheng, Ioannou & Serafeim, 2014, p. 23). For instance, environmental concerns have currently become an issue of debate. To address this issue, there is a need to implement a sustainable CSR strategy in the organization. To ensure the sustainable implementation of CSR, stringent policies that cover the environmental implications of the organization's operations should be developed. The policies should aim at eliminating waste and emissions, minimizing operations that impair the enjoyment of ecological resources by the future generation, and maximizing the efficient use of available resources. Government policies and regulations are the key drivers for CSR. Pearson needs to partner with government agencies to develop stringent policies and regulations efficiently for a sustainable business environment.

The company should also focus on developing policies that enhance social welfare in society. The policies should be integrated into the organization's practices and ensure that they are followed to the latter. They should focus on developing new products that meet or exceed consumer needs or expectations in the market (Buckler, 2017, p. 22). To ensure a successful implementation, the organization should conduct a comprehensive research and development strategy to identify consumer needs and tailor the products to meet customer expectations. Businesses should not be driven by the profit motive, but they should take into consideration the social welfare of the consumers. Strict adherence to regulations and standards set by the government will lead to successful CSR implementation.

In addition, there is a need for Pearson to enhance its CSR strategy in matters concerning employee retention and recruitment. CSR strategy should ensure that organizations consistently offer training programs to ensure competency in the execution of roles. The strategy should also cover employee social welfare (Bhattacharya, Korschun, Sen, and Routledge, 2017, p. 26). The organization should ensure good working conditions. For instance, it should ensure that policies protecting the employees from physical harm are implemented. Also, the employees should be compensated fairly. Therefore, the organization’s CSR strategy should contain a well-developed compensation plan comprised of salaries, benefits, and bonuses. These strategies will motivate workers, as well as lead to job satisfaction and increased productivity. Successful implementation of CSR requires thorough research and smart partnerships to develop strict and strong policies and regulations.

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