What are managers busy about?





You hear about companies that are interested in, that develop, and that implement CSR. You also hear about customers who require a more socially responsible attitude from companies — although when it comes to spending money, they remain distrustful of these activities. And you also hear about companies that have adopted market-orientation processes as a competitive strategy but have yet to decide where society fits in as a stakeholder.

ESADE’s programmes allow us to interact with managers who are responsible for prioritising the various aspects mentioned above. Today’s managers have shown a growing interest in combining both orientations. Is this mainly because they strive to gain competitive advantage, or because they prioritise on the basis of their personal values?

At the end of the day, CSR implementation, the market orientation, and the possible interrelationships between the two — societal marketing, social marketing initiatives, shared value strategies — depend on managers and their personal values:

-          CSR has been interpreted as decision-making based on economic reputation management. However, whenever someone goes above and beyond the legal limits on responsibility, we must ask ourselves if that individual’s behaviour is better explained by his or her personal values. This would be a form of CSR in which managers assume responsibility for identifying and adapting to the interests of citizens affected by the company’s actions.

-          The market orientation is developed within the paradigm of stakeholder theory. Once again, individual managers are responsible for deciding which stakeholders are given priority. Various studies, including the McKinsey Global Surveys, have found managers who work in a society-oriented manner because it allows them to maximise potential shareholder value while also addressing personal concerns such as global warming.

To reinterpret Henry David Thoreau, managers not only must maximise their dedication — like worker ants — but they must also ask themselves, “What are we busy about?”

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