Meeting Strategic Social Needs


There are growing pressures for companies and institutions to be socially responsible. The need to respond constructively to these social pressures is also a strategic one because the continued legitimacy of business and public bodies, and ultimately their survival, depends on doing so. This social perspective shines a light on the other face of organization, as a set of arrangements that distribute power, rewards and the conditions for well-being. If the organizational form in use fails to meet people's expectations in these respects, not only the legitimacy but also the performance of a business are likely to suffer. This chapter notes the presence of deep-seated failures in society that are, in part at least, attributable to the way in which business is organized. It also presents examples of how some companies are addressing the problem in a constructive manner. The overall purpose of the chapter is to consider how organizational design can help to reconcile social responsibility with other strategic needs.

As mentioned in Chapter 3, organization has two faces. One face is organization as a system for allocating and managing work so as to achieve certain strategic objectives. Here, organization makes an essential contribution to adding value that is primarily economic. The other face is organization as a means for differentiating and allocating power and reward. This applies particularly to the hierarchical ...

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