Transparency is usually seen as integral to corporate responsibility best practice. It allows closer scrutiny of those firms claiming CR credentials. But, if we want optimal outcomes in terms of industry wide adoption of CR practices, it may pay to tolerate a little hypocrisy at times – rather than highlighting the difference between what a firm says about CR and what it actually does.
Much of the day-to-day criticism aimed at organizations on the internet and in the mainstream media may seem relatively innocuous. Yet new research suggests organizations would be wise to pay attention. Such criticism may well signal early strategic maneuvering as activists identify their targets for far more damaging actions, such as boycotts and campaigns.
There’s a view that conforming to accepted standards and norms is something organizations do reactively, mainly due to external pressures, and to avoid being penalized. But research by Déborah Philippe and Rodolphe Durand, focusing on environmental practices and reputation, shows that organizational conformity is actually a complex, nuanced, activity that can be used for strategic gain if managed well.