Getting a grip: Critical systems for corporate responsibility

Reynolds, Martin (2008). Getting a grip: Critical systems for corporate responsibility. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 25(3) pp. 383–395.



Three dilemmas of corporate social responsibility (CSR) are described in relation to a proposed triadic critical systems framework based on boundary critique. First, the holistic dilemma of addressing triple bottom line interests in economic, social and environmental issues. This speaks to a framework for understanding in making sense of interrelationships between entities in a complex reality (getting real). Second, the dilemma of nurturing cooperation amongst stakeholders having diverse viewpoints. This speaks to a framework for practice in fostering engagement between multiple perspectives based on different boundaries (getting it right). A third dilemma of CSR is presented in terms of getting a grip - a concern that speaks to a framework for responsibility in addressing the moral dilemma that any methodology, approach, system or framework can neither be entirely holistic nor appropriately conversant with all perspectives. With this caveat in mind, the paper examines one particularly significant systems tool for addressing CSR dilemmas - critical systems heuristics (CSH). Applying the triadic framework, the potential value of CSH for CSR is surfaced from two contrasting perspectives - the CSR advocate and the CSR adversary.

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