Why are operations the most vulnerable sector of any company when considering CSR?
As globalization continues, the earth's natural processes transform local problems into international issues along with the development of international commercial activities. Few communities are being left untouched by major environmental issues and social problems. As one of the most active and influential elements of the human society, the business world has been required, for several decades, to shoulder more responsibility by their consumers and society in general. The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) draws more and more attention from all sectors of society, and is considered as an issue that we cannot afford to ignore.
As we take into account the increasingly serious environmental problems and social issues such as inequitable growth, corporate social responsibility can no longer be used as a slogan or a tool of self-glorification, but rather as a pressing task for all companies, who contribute to these problems. In a day and age when technology allows us to be informed in real time, strategies such as "green-washing" may only accelerate the deterioration of a company's image.
Consequently, the CSR should be treated as an issue that can be solved only by creating synergies between several functions within a company. From establishing product concepts or services to manufacturing, from delivering goods to recycling waste, every single step of the process may have an enormous impact on whether a company decides to become socially responsible. For this reason operations management is at the core of the CSR discussion, given that it involves the design and control of the production process.
Though the principles of operations management and that of CSR have factors in common, such as reducing waste and energy saving, the traditional vision of cutting cost as more as possible conflict with the spirit of sharing value with all shareholders, making operations management the most vulnerable function when considering CSR. The objective for operations managers, increasing profits with less resource, can be quite affected by the value of corporate social responsibility.
In this essay, we try to respond the question: Why are operations the most vulnerable sector of any company when considering CSR? After presenting several main concepts and the background of this problematic, we will give three reasons to answer the question above with analysis and examples. Finally, we will put forward our proposals and previsions then come to a conclusion.
II. Concepts and background
1. Corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a concept firstly raised by Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) and developed in the USA. According to him, a businessman should, first of all, accumulate his capital, and then distribute his fortune to society. As he said: “Man who dies rich dies disgraced…If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” (Banerjee, 2007)
After this initial definition, the concept of CSR drew more attention from both academic circles and the business world in the second half of the twentieth century. According to Howard R. Bowen, enterprises should make and practice the policies that aim to create values desired by the society (Bowen, 1953). On the contrary, Milton Friedman insisted that the only duty of corporations is to augment the fortune for their shareholders. Is his article on the New York Times in 1970, he said: “The social responsibility of business is to make profit.”
Since the first decade of the twenty first century Concern from governments and appeals from non-government organizations put this issue under the spot light. In 2001, the European Commission defines the CSR as “the voluntary integration of social, environmental firms in their business operations and...