Social Responsibility has a number of meanings at both the personal and organizational level. One must first understand that social responsibility is an extension of our personal, social and organizations ethics. Social responsibility is the application of our ethics in the society at large. Thus, social responsibility is seen as an ethical framework which suggests that an entity, be it an organization (Corporate Social Responsibility-CSR) or individual, has an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large. Social responsibility is a duty every individual has to perform so as to maintain a balance between the economy and the ecosystems. A trade-off exists between economic development, in the material sense, and the welfare of the society and environment. Social responsibility means sustaining the equilibrium between the two. It pertains not only to business organizations but also to everyone who’s any action impacts the environment and the welfare of society. This responsibility can be passive, by avoiding engaging in socially harmful acts, or active, by performing activities that directly advance social goals.
Broadly, social heritage of a group (organized community or society) is a pattern of responses discovered, developed, or invented during the group’s history of handling problems which arise from interactions among its members and between them and their environment. These responses are considered the correct way to perceive, feel, think, act and are passed on to the new members through immersion and teaching. Culture thus sets the standard of values and beliefs for the group. Culture determines what is acceptable or unacceptable, important or unimportant, right or wrong, workable or unworkable. It encompasses all learned and shared, explicit or tacit, assumptions, belief, knowledge, norms and values as well as attitudes, behavior, dress, and language.
The cultures we find ourselves a part of affects us at a number of levels, in particular our values, beliefs and behaviors. Organizational culture is a particular culture form that we find ourselves in when become a part of some group, organization or corporation.
There are a number of definitions for organizational culture just as there is when we try and define leadership. For our purposes we will us the definition of culture for a group or organization as defined by one of leading thinkers on organizations, Edgar Schein.
Schein suggests that “culture is a pattern of shared basic assumptions (value and beliefs are attached to assumptions) that the group learned to solve its problems of external adaption and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems.” (1)
Another way to express culture is that it is a system of values and beliefs that are shared, assimilated or imposed in a particular group or entity that drives action both internally and externally. Within the same organization there may be subcultures at various national, divisional, team and professional levels.
Kalinda, B. (Ed.). Social Responsibility and Organizational Ethics. (2001). Encyclopedia of Business and Finance (2nd ed., Vol. 1). New York: Macmillan Reference.
- Schein, Edgar. (1992). Organizational Culture and Leadership: Second Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. p. 12
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