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This book argues that separation consciousness has kept a collective demand for corporate social responsibility at bay, even providing justification for business to neglect society. Yet there are signs that separation consciousness is being replaced with the expectation that businesses engage in symbiotic relationships with stakeholders that yield triple bottom line benefits. The potential for business to enact this social contract depends largely on the ability of top executives to discover how to activate the organizational values that make such benefits possible. The author argues that the required mind-set for this task bears a strong resemblance to the scientific discovery mentality, and that if executives were to embed this mentality in organizational decision making, shared consciousness between firms and stakeholders of the values that support corporate responsibility is feasible. CSR Discovery Leadership examines this prospect of shared value consciousness, a new fro

ntier for CSR leadership.



1. The Transformative Potential of CSR Discovery Leadership

Swanson asserts that a sense of separation has kept a coherent theory of CSR leadership at bay. By disuniting business and society, it prevents these sectors from developing a shared consciousness of the values at stake in their interactions. Chapter 1 identifies the need for business executives to discard separation consciousness in favor of unity consciousness and the discovery mentality and values that make scientific inquiry possible. In this vein, the socially responsible executive must direct value-adept employees to discover, assess, and act on the constructive value expectations of stakeholders. This book delivers a “3S” approach to CSR leadership, because it focuses on the relationship between business and society and how executives can adopt the discovery mentality and values used in scientific inquiry to help create a sense of shared value consciousness between these two sectors. Swanson refers to this prospect as a “unified field of shared value consciousness.”
Diane L. Swanson

2. Society, Business Values, and the Social Contract

By examining decades of social contract reasoning in the business and society field, this chapter highlights the society aspect of the book’s 3S approach. This examination shows that the field has whittled away at the separation between business and society by presenting these sectors as interpenetrating value systems. The trajectory of this research leads Swanson to conclude that business has institutional legitimacy if it provides its stakeholders with value-defined economic, social, and environmental benefits. Her integrative model of corporate social performance illustrates that socially responsible executives seek to discover how to activate the organizational values that make such triple bottom line impacts possible. Accordingly, amoral management can be understood as a fallacy of separation consciousness that partitions facts from values in decision making. Conversely, the social contract calls for enlightened executives to understand that values define the symbiotic relationship between business and society and that value-free decisions do not exist.
Diane L. Swanson

3. Executive Dissociation Unbefitting the Social Contract

Although Chap. 1 argued that separation consciousness is in decline, and Chap. 2 substantiated this with a review of business and society research, divisive consciousness is still a force with which to be reckoned, especially since it is encouraged by standard economic theory. Using ideal-type modeling, this chapter illustrates the dangers of executive decisions based on separation consciousness that dissociates self from others, facts from values, means from ends, humans from nature, and business from society. This chapter demonstrates that a dissociative mindset at the apex of corporate life will inevitably lead organizations to neglect or harm their stakeholders, which fuels perpetual alienation between business and society. According to this chapter, separation consciousness in executive decision making is a profound violation of the social contract between business and society based on symbiosis. The antidote of an associative mindset consistent with unity consciousness is taken up in Chap. 4.
Diane L. Swanson

4. Executive Association Befitting the Social Contract

This chapter proposes that an associative mindset is required for the executive who strives to carry out the terms of the social contract between business and society. According to the analysis in Chap. 2, these terms are that business should provide stakeholders with triple bottom line benefits. This is the essence of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Whereas Chap. 3 demonstrated that the executive who dissociates à la separation consciousness is not capable of directing an organization to deliver these benefits, Chap. 4 describes the mindset of the executive who is. It does so by identifying some realizations necessary for an associative mindset that perceives unity instead of separation in decision domains. These realizations are informed by insights gleaned from the summaries of business and society research in Chap. 2, and they set the stage for the model of CSR discovery leadership in Chap. 5.
Diane L. Swanson

5. Toward Shared Value Consciousness Through CSR Discovery Leadership

Building on the realizations necessary for an associative mindset given previously, this chapter describes the type of executive who can activate the organizational values that make the provision of triple bottom line benefits possible. Swanson provides a partial inventory of these constructive values and models the responsible organization as a means-end continuum that can facilitate them. By highlighting how an executive can direct boundary spanners to detect stakeholder value expectations and respond to them, Swanson elaborates on the discovery element of CSR leadership in terms of the book’s main proposition, which is that: An associative mindset at the apex of corporate life has the potential to create unity consciousness between business and society based on shared understandings of the constructive values at stake in the relationship. As such, this chapter elaborates on the shared value consciousness aspect of the book’s 3S approach to CSR discovery leadership.
Diane L. Swanson

6. Science, Values, and CSR Discovery Leadership

This chapter explores some theory-building attributes common to scientific inquiry on the one hand and corporate social responsibility research on the other. The point is to delineate how some aspects of contemporary scientific inquiry and the values that support it resemble the theoretical pragmatism embodied in the model of CSR discovery leadership in Chap. 5. The more these affinities are recognized, the more CSR leadership can be understood as a professional calling that breaks ranks with the separation consciousness promoted by standard economics. Swanson asserts that the legitimacy of this calling can be bolstered by recognizing that a discovery orientation is necessary both for scientific inquiry and CSR leadership. Moreover, both endeavors are defined by similar values, holistic systems thinking, and pragmatic reasoning and puzzle solving that can serve social betterment. The arc of cross-disciplinary business and society research, covered in Chap. 2, reflects these affinities.
Diane L. Swanson

7. CSR Discovery Horizons

This final chapter summarizes the differences between the dissociative and associative executive and describes the latter as having the potential to become an enlightened leader who can discover how to bring about a higher form of profit. Swanson asserts that the potential for corporate social responsibility is expansive, if discovery executives set standards that prompt virtuous cycles of CSR innovations in their industries. This chapter also identifies areas ripe for further research, including how boards of directors, lower and middle managers, and public policy makers can influence socially responsible discovery leadership. In terms of public policy, the relatively new benefit corporation is highlighted as a vanguard vehicle for discovery leadership that bears watching. Finally, Swanson calls for business education that breaks ranks with myopic dissociation and delivers an associative approach to business and society that promotes shared value consciousness.
Diane L. Swanson


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