From: Strategic and Operational Planning, South Western Sydney TAFE
Importance of talking with and listening to community needs and expectations should not be ignored. It may prevent you from making decisions that may be detrimental to your organisation and you personally.
The issue of an organisation’s social responsibility to its public is important. Robbinset al in Management, Chapter 5 (2002) provide a concise discussion on this issue. They present the two broad perspectives regarding an organisation’s social responsibility:
1. Social Responsibility
- Accepts that businesses have a right to make profit but argue that they also have a broader social obligation to their community.
- Profit is still important but not at the expense of the health and well being of the general public.
- Organisations should look beyond profit maximisation to a responsibility for protecting and endeavouring to improve society’s welfare.
- The further argument is made that it is in an organisation’s interest to be perceived as socially responsible.
2. Classical View
- Argues that it is the purpose and right of business to maximise profit for their owners/shareholders and nothing should be allowed to interfere with this.
- This is argued to be in the best overall interest of society.
- Measures to make organisations responsible for community issues interfere with this fundamental purpose to existing and are unjustified.
Robbins et al further highlight three levels of social obligation that represent a progression in the level of an organisation’s social responsibility.
1. Socio-Economic View
- A business firm’s obligations, beyond that required by law and economics, is to pursue long-term goals that are beneficial to society.
2. Social Responsiveness
- This represents the capacity of a firm to respond to changing societal conditions.
3. Social Obligation
- This represents the obligations that a company has to meet its economic and legal responsibilities.
Perhaps the important issue for business leaders to appreciate is that different cultures and communities may have very different perspectives and needs in relation to an organisation’s social‐responsibility. What may be acceptable in one community may not in another.
For this reason alone the importance of talking with and listening to community needs and expectations should not be ignored. It may prevent you from making decisions that may be detrimental to your organisation and you personally.
A major responsibility for organisation leaders is to effectively guide the interaction of their organisation with the external environment.
As leader of the organisation you have a special responsibility in this, as people both within and outside your organisation may judge your organisation by your performance in this area.