Title: A cybernetic model of corporate responsibility - sensing changes in business and society

Authors: Nigel Roome

Addresses: Vlerick School of Management, Vlamingenstraat 83, 3000 Leuven, Belgium

Abstract: Corporate responsibility (CR), as a business contribution to sustainable development, implies that the environment affects the organisation and the organisation reacts to its changing environment. In this way, CR can be understood as a cybernetic system operating across the interface between the organisation and its environment. This paper elaborates a cybernetic model of CR, and uses it to distinguish ways that managers sense change in their environment. Three ways to 'sense' change are compared: following trends, issues and events; picking up signals from stakeholders; and adjusting to sustainable development as a specific definition of 'progress'. The paper discusses the merits and limits of each approach. Conclusions are drawn in terms of implications for managing CR. Moreover, the cybernetic model is held to provide for a theory of CR that is more in line with the multi-disciplinary nature of practice than is found in ideas that derive from business ethics or stakeholder theory.

Keywords: cybernetic models; society; cybernetics; corporate responsibility; change sensing; changing environments; organisational interfaces; organisations; managers; senses; current trends; current issues; current events; stakeholder signals; stakeholders; progress; multi-disciplinary practices; business ethics; stakeholder theory; adaption; technology management; business; sustainability; sustainable development.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2012.049103

International Journal of Technology Management, 2012 Vol.60 No.1/2, pp.4 - 22

Published online: 06 Apr 2013 *

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