CSR as Game Changer – Review

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By Nayan Mitra

THE LAUNCH: It was a chilly winter afternoon on December 15, 2017, that the Book on CSR as game changer: Stakeholder engagement holds the key, authored by Dr. Manoj K. Dash was launched at the Deputy Speaker’s Hall, Constitution Club of India, New Delhi.

The event was organised by Credibility Alliance – a networking platform of NGOs and Corporates. The welcome Address was delivered by Dr. Jayant Kumar, Chairperson of Credibility Alliance, New Delhi. He is also the Head of Programmes of Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), New Delhi, India.

The Chief guest of the event was K.J. Alphons, Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge), Government of India; the Guest of Honour being: Dr. Prabhas Singh, Member of Parliament, Bargarh Lok Sabha Constituency, Odisha and the key note speaker, Brigadier (Retd.) Rajiv Williams, Corporate Head-CSR, Jindal Stainless.

Over 100 stakeholders from the academic and practitioner profile attended the event. The genesis of the Book was revealed by Dr. Dash, who is currently the Head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability of Odisha Power Generation Corporation (OPGC) Ltd., a power generation company of the State of Odisha.

Minister Alphons and Member of Parliament, Dr. Singh spoke about the need of stakeholder engagement in CSR for larger benefit of both the corporate as well as the society and the country at large. Brig. Williams, while sharing his experiences with the stakeholders of his company also chipped in with experiences from his army days, where again, stakeholder engagement brought in favourable results. The panel agreed that stakeholder is indeed key to make CSR a game changer.

The Vote of Thanks was proposed by Advocate and Founder of Independent Thought Publications, Vikram Srivastava.

THE BOOK: The Book is 119 pages in all, with 86 pages of content and the rest 33 pages of Bibliography. Needless to say, it is a well researched book that generates from the author’s (Dr. Manoj K. Dash), academic background in holding a Doctorate Degree in Economics from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. The Foreword has been written by Dr. Urvashi Sahni, the Founder and Chief Executive of the Study Hall Educational Foundation, India, where, among other things, she points out that “There is enormous respect for companies who conduct their business with dynamism, respect, authenticity and openness, making society’s needs and aspirations a part of their business model.”

Other reviewers like Indranil Dutta, Managing Director, Odisha Power Generation Corporation (OPGC) Ltd. Bhubaneswar, India; Allena Srinivasa Rao, Executive Vice-President (Projects and Operations), Nexif Energy, Singapore; Nayan Mitra, CSR Strategy Expert, Author and Researcher, Kolkata, India; Douglas Reed, Head – Programme Innovation, Research and Development, SOS Children’s Villages International, Innsbruck, Austria; Dr. Rajeev Ranjan, Head – Rotary International South Asia, New Delhi, India; Prof. S.K. Ray, Xavier University, Bhubaneswar, India – all unanimously agree that this book has come out at an opportune time and has made a sincere attempt in furthering the debate on bringing business and community together. It will be a good guide for practicing business managers.

The book has three points of focus – to highlight the multiple connects between CSR and stakeholder engagement, to capture the practitioner’s perspective in this matter and to approach CSR as it is practiced in India. These have been discussed in seven well-researched chapters.

However, the main essence of the book lies in Page 46, which states, “There have been cases in recent history that exposed corporate misdeeds even when the companies were doing excellent community engagement and CSR work. Hence, doing brilliant CSR projects cannot be considered enough when there is disconnect between the spirit of a company’s core business and its CSR portfolio.” To corroborate this point, Dr. Dash gives the examples of Nike, Enron, Satyam Computer Services Limited, Exxon, Nestle, Pfizer – whose case studies have shaken the world in recent times by their not-so famous reputation in corporate social irresponsibility. Hence, Dr. Dash feels that “Stakeholders should actively and meaningfully participate in governance and accountability measures, from the start to the end; only then can real trust be nurtured and sustainable solutions be achieved.”

Dr. Dash goes deep into discussing Freeman’s (1984) Stakeholder theory to the more recent Strategic CSR, also known as the Business Case for CSR. He indicates the need for complete accountability and transparency of  ‘private enterprise’ by quoting Galbraith (1972), who opined that an enterprise has “no natural right” to be left alone. He believes with the experts that “companies succeed when they are able to build a transparent relationship with the external world and they tend to think very differently about their very purpose of being in business.” He shows his concern in the “radical change in the corporate sector’s relationship both with the state and civil society”; and acknowledges the role of “globalisation, deregulation, privatisation and a redrawing of lines between state and market as having the basis on which business enterprise is expected to contribute to the public good.” He is upfront when he recognises that “CSR still creates a degree of confusion and controversy.’ Yet, on a micro level, he points out to the importance of “actual commitment of financial as well as non-financial resources” from the key persons involved in the planning and implementation of CSR in the Company.

His questions are pointed: Is CSR worth embracing? Which direction is the stream flowing Voluntary or Mandatory? What prompted Companies think CSR? How Companies strategize CSR implementation? How 21st Century Companies choose CSR interventions?

While the book, ‘CSR as a game changer: Stakeholder engagement holds the key’ does seek answers to these questions, yet, Dr. Dash is pragmatic when he acknowledges that “there is plenty to be explored and executed, in spaces of theory and practice too.”

In a nutshell, it is a very good read that simplifies serious academic discussions, with relevant global examples targeted towards academics and practitioners of social development.

Disclaimer: The thoughts captured in the interview is solely that of the interviewee. The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR Network and its Editor.

Copy Right & Conditions: India CSR Network does not permit other websites/Agency to copy or reproduce or reprint the above article in any form.

 

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