During these early years of the twenty-first century, the European Union has made an important effort to show the intrinsic relationship between the implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility programmes in the private sector, organisations and institutions, and their increased competitiveness in the market.
The interest in this raising of awareness is due to the arrival of globalisation, a process that has developed in recent decades and one which has enabled markets to satisfy their demands with products from all over world. In view of this, Europe feels compelled to find a distinguishing feature which allows its organisations to compete with other markets with products and services which are, in many cases, of good quality and more affordable.
When it was published, the Green Paper (COM 2001) showed that the European Union was committed to the inclusion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the planning and management of its organisations as a key factor in its positioning strategy. For the organisations, its acceptance and correct application would be a distinguishing feature enabling them to increase their competitiveness in the global market, at the same time contributing to the creation of a more dynamic, innovative and socially and environmentally sustainable European economy.
However, despite the importance of the strategic aspect, this article provides a perspective which goes beyond the scope of the Green Paper. It focuses particularly on its proposal for internal responsibility, and attempts to show that the benefits of correct implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility within organisations are not only strategic, but also communicative. In other words, Corporate Social Responsibility is not simply a tool for satisfying the particular interests of a particular internal group. It is also a resource which allows the organisation to create favourable conditions to strengthen and develop the moral resources necessary for carrying out its activities, such as trust and its reputation.
Indeed, the inclusion of Corporate Social Responsibility in the management provides guidelines for achieving a possible intersubjective understanding with all the internal parties affected by a given activity. In other words, as long as the organisation is responsible (economically, legally and morally) and can justify it publicly, it will have access to important capital; moral resources such as trust, reciprocity, reputation, solidarity, commitment, responsibility, etc…
The management of moral resources points towards a basic idea: the need for legitimacy. In the past, it was thought that continuous improvements in the account books and scrupulous respect for the law were enough to generate credibility in the organisation. However, the problem today is that the possibility of managing moral resources also requires other important questions to be answered. The various internal Stakeholders (workers, shareholders, managers, suppliers, etc…) expect the organisation not to pollute, to generate wealth and development in its surroundings, to respect human rights, to pay fair salaries, not to discriminate on the grounds of sex, religion or race, to provide decent conditions, and to comply with the agreements it reaches among many other things. Only by satisfying the internal Stakeholders’ legitimate expectations, the organisation can obtain the trust and reputation necessary to carry out its activity correctly and generate the greatest possible value. Because as García-Marzá argues, the organisation “achieves social credibility and legitimacy when it is able to maintain a level of response that generates consensus or agreement among all the groups involved or affected by its activity” (2005:95).
These ideas show us the real impact that generating a responsible culture in its internal management sphere can have for the organisation. Doing so provides access to both strategic and communicative benefits. The organisation can use internal CSR to generate greater efficiency, competitiveness, image and efficiency, strategic resources that make it possible to achieve various objectives of the organisation thanks to attracting talent, increasing the motivation of its agents, improving its corporate image, etc. But it can also generate trust, reciprocity, reputation, solidarity, commitment and responsibility. These moral resources can be used to think of an activity without conflict, which provides economic benefits as well as social and environmental ones.
In conclusión, these reasons aims to show that the need to include Corporate Social Responsibility in an organisation’s management cannot be valued solely on the basis of obtaining significant strategic benefits. Beyond the scope of the Green Paper, it is necessary to consider the possibility of access to another type of benefit which are equally important for the organisation’s activities.
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