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How do organizations learn from their external stakeholders in the context of corporate responsibility? : a systematic review

By Rajiv Maher


In the past few decades private firms have increasingly been scrutinized by external stakeholders such as civil society organizations, local communities and government with regards to their corporate responsibilities towards society and the environment. Firms have been challenged with meeting these rising societal expectations. The private sector has responded by creating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments and entering into dialogue with some of their staunchest critics from civil society in search of finding more responsible ways of operating. The main challenge being proposed to the private sector by civil society, practitioners and academics is that they embed CSR into their organizational cultures and way of working. Organizational learning theories have been established for several decades unlike the concept of CSR which is relatively immature in academia. Organizational learning in many ways requires firm members to reconsider the current modes of working, acquire new knowledge and then create the necessary changes within the organization to enhance competitiveness. In many ways organizational learning is about embedding new concepts of working throughout the organization. Therefore in this systematic literature review I aim to bridge both CSR/Stakeholder and organizational learning domains and pose the following questions of why, how and what do organizations learn from their external stakeholders in the context of CSR. It can be argued that organizational learning concepts can be appropriately applied for understanding how firms interact with and learn from their external stakeholders. By applying organizational learning theories it is possible to see that despite the relatively few empirical studies we can argue firms learn in one of two ways: in a prudent, incremental and risk manner or as the consequence of a crisis, and if so their learning is deeper and more likely to be embedded into the organizational culture

Publisher: Cranfield University
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

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