The Age of Responsibility: CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business (Anglais) Relié – 18 février 2011
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"Wayne Visser′s The Age of Responsibility elegantly and persuasively demonstrates the limits and failures of traditional CSR and also the kinds of reforms needed to create conditions for genuine corporate responsibility. Rich with insight, information and analyses, and highly readable for its excellent writing and poignant stories, the book is a crucial contribution to understanding where we are with CSR and what we need to do to move forward."
Joel Bakan, author of The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (book and documentary film)
"Amongst the advocates of CSR as an innovative management approach, Wayne Visser is a well–known voice. This new book states more clearly than most why CSR should not be dismissed, but would benefit from some serious rethinking."
Michael Blowfied, Senior Research Fellow at Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Oxford University and author of Corporate Responsibility
"The Age of Responsibility by Wayne Visser is an important book that should be studied carefully by all those seriously interested in the past, present and future of CSR. For me, the most noteworthy contribution is his "ages and stages" of CSR. Visser identifies five overlapping economic periods and classifies their stages of CSR, modus operandi, key enablers, and stakeholder targets. In forward–looking fashion, he crafts five insightful principles of CSR 2.0 and presents his DNA Model of CSR 2.0 which integrates knowledge and sets forth a more inclusive view of CSR. This book is a significant contribution to the theory and practice of CSR and it will be valued by academics and practitioners alike. I strongly recommend it."
Archie B. Carroll, Professor of Management Emeritus, Terry College of Business and author of Business and Society
"A challenging and thought provoking book. In an age when corporate responsibility is a must for most large businesses, Wayne Visser reminds us that global environmental and social pressures show little sign of receding. He asks: are we as practitioners complacent, or worse, part of the problem? There is hope and optimism but only if we are brave and bold enough to re–engineer corporate responsibility. Read on...."
Yogesh Chauhan, Chairman Corporate Responsibility Group and BBC Chief Adviser Corporate Responsibility
"An authoritative tome on the CSR movement. It provides a comprehensive framework to understand the various stages of (and motivations for) CSR in organizations and the economy to date, and a clear vision of what a truly sustainable and responsible tomorrow entails. This is an eminently well–researched and well–structured book that flows coherently with deep insights and valuable vignettes."
Willie Cheng, author of Doing Good Well: What does (and does not) make sense in the nonprofit world
"The Age of Responsibility provides a much–needed wake up call for the corporate responsibility movement. This highly readable account of where CSR has gone wrong and where it needs to go next is essential reading for anyone interested in the role business can play in creating a just and sustainable society. This is the best CSR book you′ll read all year."
Andrew Crane, George R. Gardiner Professor of Business Ethics, Schulich School of Business, York University and author of Business Ethics
"The Age of Responsibility breathes new life into CSR, both by redefining it as Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility and by highlighting why CSR has so far failed to make much difference in the way companies respond to pressing global challenges. In his inimitable style, using clear frameworks and illustrative case studies, Wayne Visser brings real insight to a complex set of ideas at a time when they are needed most. Bring on CSR 2.0!"
Polly Courtice, Director of the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
"In this time of seemingly widespread corporate malfeasance Wayne Visser has put his finger on why CSR has failed to deliver on its promise and what can be done to right the ship. The Age of Responsibility is a must read for anyone concerned about the future of business."
Bob Doppelt, Executive Director, The Resource Innovation Group and The Climate Leadership Initiative
"CSR 1.0 did remarkably well through the latest Great Recession, despite having precariously little to say on the big issues of the day and no ready–to–go blueprint for economic transformation. As a result, we are seeing a massive reboot going in the CSR industry and Wayne Visser is a consistently reliable guide to (and champion of) the emerging CSR 2.0 mindsets and practices."
John Elkington, Co–Founder and Director, Volans Ventures and co–author of The Power of Unreasonable People
"It is difficult to run a sustainable business in an unsustainable world. So forget about the defensive, charitable, promotional and strategic versions of CSR. The Age of Responsibility is a call for companies to shift to CSR 2.0 where success is judged by improvements in the overall socio–cultural, economic and ecological systems. If not, CSR will continue to fail, argues Wayne Visser. With an array of cases Visser guides you through the evolution of business responsibility from the Ages of Greed, Philanthropy, Misdirection and Management to the Age of Responsibility and shares the five principles of sustainable business actions. Wayne Visser′s insightful book is at the same time a compelling personal story about the existential questioning of whether or how it is possible to make a difference through CSR."
Tania Ellis, international speaker, business advisor and author of The New Pioneers
"Through a concise analysis of recent economic history and through the wisdom of parables, Visser′s book offers an illuminating analysis of the heart of greed and of the path our institutions can take to move from corporate responsibility as a form of occasional philanthropy to an ethic of responsibility that is radically transformative. Visser′s new economic myth or meta–narrative creates a compelling vision of a possible sustainable world."
Betty Sue Flowers, Professor Emerita, University of Texas at Austin and co–author of Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society
"Wayne Visser has rightly identified responsibility as one of the defining issues of our time. Executives, students and citizens should read this book, and make it an integral part of our conversation about business."
R. Edward Freeman, Director of the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, and author of Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach
"High marks for Wayne Visser who brings us a book that both challenges the conventional state of CSR in very fresh and bold fashion, and offers a provocative new vision of CSR 2.0. What is most energizing about this book is that it provides a well documented historical and analytical framework on the progression of CSR over the past century. But in analyzing the current state of CSR, it recognizes that despite amazing achievements and progress, CSR has to leap frog into a new world, one that recognizes the new DNA of business, and one that calls for a CSR 2.0 that goes far beyond the models that currently exist. The new Principles of CSR 2.0 that Visser puts at the heart of this book provide the business community and the CSR world a new path for incorporating the complexity of the social and environmental issues that confront today′s corporation, a CSR that can serve as a more transformative force for economic and social sustainability. What a refreshing and creative read! There are few books that can cut to the chase and provide a thoughtful analysis of the current state of CSR while at the same time opening up a vision for tomorrow. This is a contribution to the CSR world that is long overdue and most welcome."
Brad Googins, Associate Professor in Organisation Studies at the Carroll School of Management, and former Director of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship
"Your new book deserves to become an instant classic. It brings together so many ideas, writings, and stages in the development of CSR. It is a liberal education on the relation of business to society. I hope that it is read not only by companies but becomes a required reading in business schools to prepare business students for a higher level of thinking about their future role and impact. I am happy to endorse the book: A most impressive book! I will recommend it to every company to figure out why they are practicing CSR and how to really practice it to make a difference to their profits, people, and the planet."
Philip Kotler, S. C. Johnson and Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and author of Corporate Social Responsibility
"The Age of Responsibility will change the way you think about CSR, allowing you to discard myths and to work towards a systemic view of CSR. Wayne Visser holds up a mirror to the CSR community and to business and society itself, providing a brilliant lens with which to see our past and envision a new future. Visser projects a new type of CSR he terms "CSR 2.0". The Age of Responsibility is a call to arms: inspiring, engaging and visionary."
Deborah Leipziger, author of The Corporate Responsibility Code Book and SA8000: The Definitive Guide to the New Social Standard
"The Age of Responsibility and its proposed CSR 2.0 – perhaps better called Systemic or Radical Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility – shows, in the same way that Natural Capitalism does, that reinventing our industrial model is not only imperative – socially, environmentally, economically and morally – but also a great opportunity for those pioneers that blaze the trail."
L. Hunter Lovins, President of Natural Capitalism Solutions and author of Natural Capitalism
"Whether corporate social responsibility has failed, or whether it is still finding its feet pending further market pull, one thing is clear: without a life–giving understanding of responsibility as the ability to respond there′s no point to anything. Wayne Visser does us all a service in exploring the opportunities and challenges that such responsibility entails."
Alastair McIntosh, Professor at the Centre for Human Ecology, Strathclyde University and author of Hell and High Water
"All individuals interested in the evolution of Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility should feel compelled to join Wayne Visser in his quest to better understand why efforts to implement CSR practices have not yet yielded the desired outcomes. In The Age of Responsibility, he draws on his gift for language and storytelling to lay out the case for a new kind of CSR CSR 2.0. Using Web 2.0 as a metaphor, Visser identifies the interconnectedness of humans in their efforts to define what the world of business should look like. The journey is thought provoking, an education on where CSR has been and where it needs to go and a story imploring the reader to seek out "a unique and invaluable way to make a difference through CSR"."
Josetta McLaughlin, Associate Professor of Management at Walter E. Heller College of Business Administration, Roosevelt University
"The good news: Business is shifting from making money in the simplest way possible, towards solving global problems and making money in the process.The bad news: Progress is slow. Wayne Visser paints the big picture using an astounding amount of detailed knowledge."
Jorgen Randers, Professor of Climate Strategy at the Norwegian School of Management and co–author of Limits to Growth: The 30–Year Update
"A world based on rights without responsibility can only lead to destruction. And when the rights are unbridled rights of giant corporations they trample on the earth and people. Wayne Visser′s The Age of Responsibility calls for a vital shift from rights to responsibility. It is a must read for all."
Vandana Shiva, author of Earth Democracy and Soil Not Oil
"CSR 2.0 is a great concept. Good luck with it. And as Wayne Visser rightly adds: smart government regulation is absolutely essential."
Ernst von Weizsäcker, author of Factor 5: Transforming the Global Economy through 80% Improvements in Resource Productivity
"The book is a thought provoking and cutting edge addition to the CSR literature. It integrates strategic and stakeholder perspectives to provide a new model of implementing change and innovative thinking. In extending the paradigm of CSR it promotes the role of leaders in bringing about positive societal change through stakeholder engagement and it does so through an understanding of the practical issues facing business leaders of today. Moreover, it challenges every one of us to think and act differently, to bring about mass global change enacted at the local level, and to incorporate social enterprises and social networks in this transformation. The global financial crisis has further reinforced the timeliness of this book and its arguments of a new way of thinking and acting in the area of sustainability and responsibility to bring about systemic change."
Suzanne Young, Associate Professor and Director of Corporate Responsibility and Global Citizenship, Graduate School of Management, La Trobe University
The new generation of CSR
In this landmark book Wayne Visser shows how the old model of Corporate Sustainability & Responsibility (CSR) is being replaced by a 2nd generation movement. This generation goes beyond the outmoded approach of CSR as philanthropy or public relations (widely criticised as ′greenwash′) to a more interactive, stakeholder–driven model.
- Provides a ′second generation′ approach to CSR that will breathe new life into the movement
- Can increase the effectiveness of CSR as a strategy to create positive change in society through business
- Acknowledges the challenges faced by conventional businesses and provides the measures needed to face these
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I have to admit that the book resonates very well with me because I am advocating for systemic change in the same way as Wayne Visser does, mainly saying that CSR as we know it hasn't lead to the level of acceptance it deserves as a concept, basically due to the way it was managed, and therefore remained as a special add-on for those multinationals who felt scratched by some of their stakeholders. It will never be successful without being seen from a systemic, worldwide, integrated, transparent, collaborative and holistic perspective, in fact my idea of the necessary basics that allow a S.W.I.T.C.H. to a sustainable economy (developed and described on .
The first part of Wayne's book describes the five ages and stages of CSR (the age of greed, the age of philanthropy, the age of marketing, the age of management, and finally the age of responsibility). All five stages are well described with examples and a lot of extra information that helps to understand the background and rationale of why and how these stages emerged. Only the last stage, the age of responsibility, opens the gate towards CSR 2.0 and the development of the new DNA. Honestly, I prefer the word stages above the word ages since all stages are still existing globally, depending on what part of the world one looks at, whereas ages tend to point to the past. We are for example still far away of having reached the 'age of management' globally, as one could imagine after more than 20 years of global conferences on sustainability. Furthermore we need to also bury the idea that CSR is top of the agenda of world leaders, politically and/or at corporate level. We are still on a slow death path, with only 2 % of the global multinationals that openly describe their moves in CSR reports and more than 2.000 companies that got delisted form the UN Global Compact earlier this year due to a complete failure to deliver a Communication on Progress. No more proof needed I guess.
Interwoven in the these chapters is the criticism around the financial crisis and the unchanging behavior of the financial market players, the externalities discussion, the effects of the standardization movement and the ever missing political will. Personally I would have hoped for a concise chapter that puts together all the macroeconomic malfunctioning that leads to failures on the micro-level, missing incentives and the slowed down motivation for company captains to move upfront in their respective industries. This would e.g. also include unsustainable taxation regimes, the politics around subsidies and world trade schemes, the failure on enforced anti-corruption measures, the missing moves in educational systems, missed opportunities to mandate transparent reporting, etc.. While there is a lot of logic in the 5 chapters describing the 5 stages and some of the macroeconomic failure, the micro/macro-link remains a bit loose.
The second part of the book describes the 5 principles of CSR 2.0, namely creativity, scalability, responsiveness, glocality and circularity. They all work very well in my mental 'S.W.I.T.C.H. structure of future readiness'. These principles and the many examples that Wayne Visser is already able to present to the reader show what immense pressure and cry for help already exists by the growing wave of concerned advocates towards sustainable change. Individuals, (web-)communities, and to a certain degree the proactive companies have given up to wait for the political world to set the new boundaries, which is maybe also a reaction that they do not believe in organized change by a new design of the macroeconomics (even though there signals that this problem is at least understood, see e.g. the French initiative commissioned by Sarkozy and lead by Stiglitz and Sen, or the new German enquete commission dealing with the same issue) . The examples also show that there are always only a few multinationals in an industry sector that dare to take a leading role. The effect for those that will not implement the new DNA of sustainability is simply 'no mercy' from drastically changing future markets, the 'blessed unrest'(as Paul Hawken describes) has lead to social entrepreneurship that will more and more compete with the shareholder driven business model (one of the reasons why management gurus like Michael Porter now advocate 'shared value' creation as the new paradigm for business).
The last chapters of the book tackle our ability to change, in which Wayne Visser presents a 'matrix of change' and the sort of change that is needed to succeed. While these chapters pull together some of the theory and newer literature of change management (no wonder you find Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer here), my feeling was that it all comes down to charismatic leaders (archetypes are presented actually in the last chapter of the book) and a new belief that there is - as they say at M&S - no plan B. Will we be able to reach a Malcom Gladwell sort of tipping point that the financial crisis was just the kick-off for a change in belief? Wayne Visser of course wasn't able to foresee the Arabic spring and Wikileaks when he finalized the script, but he surely hoped for these indications of ongoing change!
I strongly recommend reading 'The Age of Responsibility' to assess and complete your knowledge about WHY change towards a sustainable economy is needed and to understand HOW we might get there. Wayne lifted the curtain for us, let's all take a look, and then take a leading role in believing that we are doing the right thing, something our children will be proud of when they look back in 20 years.
This book is very useful and will be one of my main sources of information and inspiration for my dissertation.
Visser's book has been very helpful to me in framing key issue and providing an in-depth historical overview.
The key distinctive of his book that is transformational is his recognition and use of narrative. I heard Tony Blair speaking in Kosovo last year about the need for that country to 'rewrite' its narrative in a way that gave confidence to investors to start returning to their country. I think Visser's approach has this potential for those working in the field of CSR. That is, it makes possible the 'rewriting' of the narrative of CSR in a way that shows a brighter future.
This book will influence the future of CSR. It will help to shape the future DNA of business.
It has already changed me.
This is a must read book for everyone!