Since its inception in 2012 the CSR Research Seminar has brought together doctoral students, researchers and experts to present and discuss their research projects and receive feedback. The two day seminar which took place in June had the theme this year of ‘Next Level Business Approaches for Corporate Social Responsibility’.
The researchers discussed how CSR is changing the business environment and evolving to leverage companies and better answer to the needs of their stake holders. From investors to employees and consumers to governmental institutions the CSR orientation is prompting businesses to modify their original structure.
Coordinated by Christel Dumas, the event was held in Brussels. The seminar was co-organised by Le Louvain CSR Network de la Louvain School of Management (Prof. Valérie Swaen), l’ICHEC Brussels Management School (Prof. Christel Dumas), l’IESEG School of Management (Prof. François Maon) et Audencia Business School de Nantes (Prof. Céline Louche).
Sircome was invited to join the event and here we share some of the highlights. The discussions and papers we presented on different tables covering the following topics:
- Critical perspectives on CSR
- Investigating the impact of (ir)responsible business practices
- Drivers of CSR policies and initiatives
- Redefining businesses and organisations
- Innovation and CSR practices, processes & discourses
- CSR and finance
- CSR Innovation
- Value transformation and sustainable business
- Between circular economy and closed loop supply chains.
In search of a circular capitalism for sustainable oriented organisations
Frank Boons researcher for the Manchester University and associate editor of the Journal of Industrial Ecology shared a keynote on ‘Transitioning towards responsible business models: in search of a circular capitalism’ he highlighted that concepts like circular economy are predominantly about defining circularity, and much less about what ‘economy’ stands for. Meaning that we tend to believe that multiplying sustainable business models will lead to a sustainable economy but care less about what an economy should be. He encourages then the idea of changing the basis of a ‘business model’ to a mode of provision provision model.
Shuili Du a researcher from the University of New Hampshire presented her work on how sustainability would trigger product innovation with stakeholders already forcing firms to consider the way they think about their products, technologies, processes and business models. Shuili Du is interested in how CSR will boost new product development.
It was explained during the seminar that organizations can be market orientated, stakeholder orientated or sustainability orientated. The latter would mean an organisation’s culture, principles and behaviours induce members to be aware of and willing to act on a variety of stakeholder and sustainability related issues.
Sustainability orientation stimulates new product development by:
- Enhancing organizational learning
- Cultivating a system-thinking mindset and social capital
Her work pointed out that a customer is not only an economic being but also a member of a community and a citizen of a country. It assumes multiple stakeholder roles in relation to a firm that are considered in the sustainability orientation model and open innovation has been proved to be a effective way to integrate the stakeholders in new product development.
She shared some valuable advice for managers:
- Embed sustainability in a firm’s NPD endeavours
- Systematically monitor and assess the impact of sustainability orientation on customer focus and new product innovation
- Differentiating between OI-Market and OI-Technical and leverage them differently in various phases of NPD process
Research, CSR and companies
The attendees shared their experiences when working with companies and some PhD students expressed their concerns about the difficulties they could face when approaching the private sector. As we have noticed before having a practical knowledge is consistently a priority for researchers.
The scholars had the opportunity to profit from valuable insights from experts talking about what should define a good article and were given some keys points on how to get published by a scientific review. For Frank Boons a good article should be ‘Clear, original and easy to read. It has to lead the reader to the point’ as well emphasising the importance of choosing the right magazine to submit the article to rather than simply choosing the famous one, both increasing the chances of publication and of targeting the right audience.
We kindly thank all the research team that every year organise the seminar allowing the different disciplines to find synergies, share experiences and improve their results.
For further information on the seminar check up the site of the Louvain CSR Network