Research Arc 1

I’d like to start with the arc on current CSR initiatives, since this sets the stage well for thinking about what companies are currently doing and where they could go. By doing that first, I could keep current CSR initiatives in my mind as I go through the rest of my research, so I will have more time to think of new ideas and things to explore. Arc 2 will probably be a deep dive into the tech industry and what problems arise from its rise. Then I could explore what aspects of the tech industry could be utilized to create mutually beneficial CSR initiatives.

 

The most compelling aspects of my research are the propositions of what tech companies could do. Since the emergence of powerful tech companies is fairly recent, there hasn’t been much done in terms of exploring how CSR should change for them, so it’s exciting to be exploring this topic.

 

I am adding the angle of how to make CSR initiatives mutually beneficial, so that companies will actually be more successful in doing them, to oppose what some argue is a paradox: companies are profit-driven, so they shouldn’t or won’t do anything that reduces profits. By making CSR profitable, it will remove this supposed paradox, as well as encourage more companies to pursue it.

 

I will organize my project by these concepts: history of corporations, emergence of CSR in manufacturing, rise of the tech sector, CSR in tech, future CSR initiatives for tech companies

 

I was most intrigued by the text “What Does Corporate Social Responsibility Mean for the Technology Sector?” as it described concrete ways tech companies could leverage their power and innovation to help solve society’s problems. It connects to other articles that focus on only problems of environment and labor, as these are issues of the manufacturing industry, and although these are important issues, we should prioritize the issues that arise from technology, such as inequality and gentrification. I’d like to explore what other problems the tech industry causes, and what ways it can fix these problems.

 

Arc 1: History of CSR

  • History of corporations

  • Purpose of CSR and emergence

  • Manufacturing forms of CSR

 

Evidence:

  • Timeline of corporate power

  • Definition of CSR, does the definition change?

  • Emergence of manufacturing CSR

  • Social movements that spurred a change in the manufacturing industry, how these social movements came to be

  • What the current forms of CSR are in different industries, how these CSR initiatives came to be

  • Current CSR goals, what do they hope to achieve? Better brand image? Are they just out of the goodness of the company’s heart? Do they align with the company’s mission statements? Do they increase profit margins?

  • CSR goals in tech specifically, how did these CSR initiatives emerge? Just borne out of the manufacturing industry?

  • How, if at all, has CSR changed in the brief history of the tech industry? Was CSR always present? Why? Because tech companies tend to be more liberal and educated? What effect has CSR had on the tech industry?

 

 

Analysis:

  • Corporations were originally profit-driven, but have the trend of becoming more socially conscious, can they fully evolve to be social enterprises?

  • CSR emerged out of social movements, environmental awareness, labor rights, what other social movements may spur further changes?

  • Current CSR initiatives are based on manufacturing problems, how can we get them to shift to solve problems caused by technology? And can they solve problems they don’t directly cause? Could doing so benefit themselves?

  • What are the biggest issues caused by tech companies? What are the biggest problems in our society? How should we prioritize these issues?

 

Idea and Significance:

  • Corporations in technology have more power than ever before, in terms of generating a lot of wealth, political influence, social media/celebrity presence of key members (eg Elon Musk, Zuckerberg)

  • How can this power be utilized for good? What will happen if it is not utilized for good?

  • With big power comes big problems, issue of privacy (our data being shared without our consent), huge increase in inequality (big CEOs earning larger share of income), gentrification around tech areas (also Airbnb driving up rent, Uber causing taxi drivers to lose jobs, etc)

  • Should corporations utilize their power to have more of a governance role in our everyday lives? Should they fund education, infrastructure, initiatives to reduce inequality, protection against threats? What are the pros and cons, for both them and for us?

  • What is the distinction between a social enterprise and corporate social responsibility, how much can they merge onto one another, where is the ideal on that spectrum for a company to be? What are the pros and cons of each? Should different types of companies be at different places on the spectrum?

  • Should we return to policies limiting corporate power instead? Can we trust companies to do good with the power they have or should we return to governance rules that reduce corporate power or place limits on it? How powerful should we allow a company to get, and how do we define power (money, cultural influence, clout)?

© 2018 by Danielle Egan