Mainstreaming corporate responsibility

Twelve case studies have been developed as part of a three-year project on Curriculum Development for Mainstreaming Corporate Responsibility, sponsored by the European Academy of Business in Society (EABIS) and led by London Business School initially, and then by the INSEAD Social Innovation Centre.

For most companies today, corporate responsibility can no longer be treated as a peripheral activity left to public affairs. It has to be embedded within the core activities, systems and culture of the organisation. The EABIS curriculum development project was premised on the belief that if business schools are to better equip future business leaders and managers to meet the complex environmental, social and governance (ESG) problems they now face, corporate responsibility must also become a strategic imperative for management educators, mainstreamed into all core business disciplines and no longer left solely to a stand-alone course.

A key goal of the project was to develop - and encourage the adoption of - teaching materials that could be used to address corporate responsibility across business school and executive development curricula. The project team felt that cases would be the best teaching materials to develop. Cases are widely used the world over at the best business schools and on executive programmes. They are also, increasingly, used for in-company training, at corporate universities and with undergraduates. The enduring popularity of cases in the teaching of business and management is due, in part, to the experiential and interactive style of learning they allow. They are also adaptable to different faculty teaching styles and background experiences of class participants. The project team wanted to take advantage of all these aspects.

The active participation of the featured companies in the development process of the cases helped to ensure that they are much closer to a genuine reflection of business reality than cases based on desk research alone. Moreover, each has been subject to at least two rounds of careful review by the project Steering Committee and subsequent revision by the case authors. Each of the cases sheds new and important light on how companies today are navigating their way towards a genuine mainstreaming of corporate responsibility. They also provide a vehicle for exploring this topic in both traditional corporate responsibility courses and, more innovatively, in the standard core courses of the business school curriculum where, in most schools to date at least, too little attention is being given to these critically important issues of business in society.

Cases

Betapharm: Be Different or Die
André Habisch and Stephan Kaiser
Katholische Universitat Eichstatt-Ingolstadt
Petra Kinzel betapharm Arzneimittel GmbH
Nigel Roome
Solvay Business School
Ref 709-019-1
Teaching note

Ref 709-019-8

After its foundation in the early 1990s, betapharm had grown to a medium-sized company offering generic pharmaceutical products. In 1998, sales growth stagnated as competitors started to imitate betapharms' price leadership and first-to-market strategy. The management decided to differentiate the company from its competitors by placing ethical values at the core of a new strategy. To do so, they launched several CSR activities, some of them with strong partners, with the aim of using them for communication purposes, both on the market side and within the company. CSR activities facilitated betapharm's new strategy, which was based on trust, transparency, and added value for unmet needs, in addition to low prices. Shortly after enhancing its social engagement initiatives, sales increased again, making betapharm one of the 5 most successful generics companies in Germany. Therefore, the CSR activities, once fully implemented throughout the company and the company's culture, positively influenced betapharm's economic performance. However, several public policy reforms in health care and changes in ownership put pressure on the new strategy. This raised the question what further strategic options betapharm had.

 

ENEL: CSR and Performance Measurement (A)
Anna Pistoni and Lucrezia Songini
SDA Bocconi
Ref 709-020-1
ENEL: CSR and Performance Measurement (B)

Ref 709-021-1
Teaching note

Ref 709-020-8

Enel SpA is one of the largest Italian enterprises. It is a public utility company that has been operating in the energy industry since 1962. Enel introduced its Environmental Report in 1996, its Ethical Code in 2002, and the Sustainability Report in 2003. CSR principles have been introduced into strategic planning, budgeting and managerial reporting since 2003. The company has also developed a Sustainability (Balanced) Scorecard. Since 2002, the industrial holding of Enel set up two new organisational departments, which are in charge of CSR: the Corporate Social Responsibility Unit, which depends on the Corporate Communication Department, and the EnelDATA Unit, which depends on the Corporate Accounting, Control and Finance Department. Case (A) discusses why and how Enel introduced the CSR approach into its activities and strategy. Case (B) analyses why and how ENEL decided to align its performance measurement and evaluation system to the CSR approach.

 

Iberdrola: A Utility's Approach to Sustainability and Stakeholder Management
Tanguy Jacopin and Joan Fontrodona
IESE Business School
Serge Poisson-de Haro
IESE Business School & HEC Montréal
Ref 309-109-1
Teaching note

Ref 309-109-8

This case looks at how sustainability became a strategic focus for Iberdrola and a source of competitive advantage for the Spanish utility company in a recently-liberalized marketplace. The increased emphasis on sustainability motivated a more comprehensive approach to stakeholder management, not least with civil society organisations. Previously the company's interactions with NGOs had been mostly confrontational. However, when an issue arose with SEO/BIRDLIFE, the oldest Spanish NGO dedicated to environmental protection, Iberdrola decided to use it as a catalyst to define a new corporate approach to NGO engagement.

 

 

IBM in China: Designing a Stakeholder Assessment Team
Steven White
CEIBS - China Europe International Business School
Ref 308-354-1

Henry Chow, the Head of IBM Greater China, saw a need for a more systematic approach to assessing how each major group of stakeholders saw IBM Greater China, and its performance as a corporate citizen (under the broad rubric of corporate social responsibility). In recent years in China, this has been particularly important as the government has begun to push a broad social development agenda, and expects firms to play a major role in realising its social objectives. The case asks students to design a team that would be most appropriate for gathering and consolidating information from key stakeholders, to serve as an input into IBM Greater China's strategic planning.


IBM in China: Responding to a Government's Social Initiatives

Steven White
CEIBS - China Europe International Business School
Ref 308-355-1

The Chinese government introduced two broad social development initiatives in 2006, with the objective of addressing the increasing gap in economic and other measures of development among segments of society and regions in China. Firms, especially multinationals like IBM, need to consider how to respond to these initiatives. This case elicits discussion on how to integrate critical stakeholder management with corporate strategy.


illycaffè: Value Creation through Responsible Supplier Relationships

Francesco Perrini and Angelo Russo
SDA Bocconi
Ref 309-110-1
Teaching note

Ref 309-110-8

This case presents the way that illycaffè, the Italian coffee company, has approached corporate responsibility in its supply chain. Since 1991, the company has focused on developing supplier relationships with Brazilian coffee producers based on the twin principles of innovation translating into coffee quality and networking translating into knowledge transfer. These two principles not only drive the supplier relationship, but also serve as the drivers of illycaffè's broader sustainability strategy.

 

Innocent Drinks: Values and Value
Robert Brown and David Grayson
Cranfield University
Ref 708-041-1
Teaching note

Ref 708-041-8

Sustainability and ethical business practices have been an integral part of Innocent's identity from the outset, alongside its wholesome fruit smoothie products, viral marketing campaigns and humorous, self-deprecating advertising. With strong consumer loyalty, it has succeeded in building the smoothie market and retaining a dominant market position despite increased competition. Not surprisingly, its founders are role models for other young entrepreneurs. However, as Innocent starts its second decade - with more competition from own labels and global drinks companies - and expands into other markets, it is challenged to maintain and develop further its ethical business practices and commitment to sustainability.

 

Microsoft Bringing Technology to the Aging Population
Maurizio Zollo and Robert Crawford
SDA Bocconi
Ref 709-023-1

This is the account of how some managers in Microsoft attempt to integrate issues related to the responsibility of the corporation for the aging and disadvantaged population into the very heart of the product development process: the code for the new operating system platform (which will then become Vista). It is an unusually complex narrative, which begins with their approach to Bill Gates and takes them through a long series of steps within the organisation until they accomplish many, though not all, of their goals.

 

Norsk Hydro ASA: Sustainable PVC at Hydro Polymers?
N. Craig Smith and Josephine Brennan
INSEAD
Ref 708-046-1
Teaching note

Ref 708-046-8

Hydro Polymers Limited, a division of Norsk Hydro ASA, the largest single-site PVC manufacturer in Europe, is getting ready to showcase its strategy for sustainable PVC to its key customers. Since 2001 it has worked with The Natural Step - an international non-profit organisation promoting sustainability - to ward off an industry-wide threat of end-users rejecting PVC products on environmental grounds. Indeed Greenpeace has already launched a 'Buy PVC-Free' campaign and is lobbying for a Europe-wide ban. Now, in 2006, the time has come to engage the supply chain and gain customer support for sustainable PVC. Will they consider it realistic, or not commerically viable given the availability of alternative materials? And will they support Hydro Polymers when other European PVC producers are taking a less radical approach?

 

Novo Nordisk A/S - Integrating Sustainability into Business Practice
Mette Morsing
Copenhagen Business School
Dennis Oswald
London Business School
Ref 409-025-1
Teaching note

Ref 409-025-8

This case demonstrates how senior management can provide the necessary leadership inside an organisation when sustainability is a primary strategic objective. From an accounting perspective, it asks to what extent it is possible to influence sustainability at the operational level by contemporary management control systems.

 

Revenue Flow and Human Rights: A Paradox for Shell Nigeria 
Aileen Ionescu-Somers and Ulrich Steger
IMD - International Institute for Management Development
Ref IMD-2-0084
Teaching note

Ref IMD-2-0084-T

This case describes Shell's involvement in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and its collaboration with the Nigerian Government to instigate more transparent reporting of oil revenues. With two senior Shell executives involved in EITI and governmental negotiations about to retire from the company, the prospect of briefing their successors on the complexity of the Nigerian situation brings a number of difficult questions to the table. The case highlights the complexity of sustainability issues for corporations, particularly the all-encompassing nature of corruption and its effect on human rights, plus the role of a multinational versus the role of the government when trying to deal with such issues.

 

Unilever and Oxfam: Understanding the Impacts of Business on Poverty (A)
N. Craig Smith and Robert Crawford
INSEAD
Ref 708-047-1
Unilever and Oxfam: Understanding the Impacts of Business on Poverty (B)

Ref 708-048-1
Teaching note

Ref 708-047-8

This case is about a groundbreaking 'learning project' conducted by Unilever and Oxfam. The goal was to examine the role of business in poverty reduction through a detailed study of Unilever's operations in Indonesia. The case shows the difficulties inherent in better understanding the impact of MNCs on poverty as well as in formulating an effective collaboration between corporations and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs).

 

Waste Concern - Turning a Problem into a Resource
Johanna Mair and Jordan Mitchell
IESE Business School
Ref DG-1502-E
Teaching note

Ref DGT-0051-E

This case profiles a business dilemma facing the two social entrepreneurs who founded Waste Concern, an organisation dedicated to improving waste recycling in Bangladesh. They are considering a significant change to their original business model in order to get approval from the municipal government for a large-scale composting site. The decision requires them to weigh difficult financial, social and environmental impacts, as well as determine an appropriate future structure for their organisation.

 

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If you have recently registered a case with us and would like the chance to talk about your experience of writing and teaching it please contact Antoinette.
 
Antoinette Mills Antoinette Mills
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antoinette@thecasecentre.org