CSR Catholicism and the Legacy of Communism – Romania CSR 09

21 10 2009

Dear Ashridge,

Hello from CSR 09 Bucharest

I am here for day two of the event which appears to me to be leagues ahead of the similar event held this time last year. Bucharest itself is having a tough time having gone through a hugely dramatic boom and bust cycle over the last two years with little Government stewardship to provide confidence for further inward investment. Despite this the stunning SAS Radisson shelters all signs of the struggle and we begin day two with a discussion around “Ecological Intelligence”.

The title for this post relates to a dinner conversation I had last night with two local Romanian’s, both highly educated, and both hugely sceptical of CSR and more than that human nature itself.  “Fundamentally we are weak and selfish and CSR is something large companies need do in order to continue to pursue these selfish ends”.

As you might imagine the conversation was quite challenging. If you assume that all people are inherently selfish and individualistic (reinforced here by religious and communist influences) any argument for CSR or sustainable business, unless clearly delivering to this selfish need is a little futile. Yet despite this we continue to find great examples of companies that are doing otherwise. Not in Romania perhaps!

Fortunately a meeting with the Head of Sustainability for Acciona provided a little salvation. In just 15 years (partly driven by the need to diversify into counter cyclical markets) Acciona has structurally transformed itself from a road building construction company to the second biggest producer of wind turbines in the world. Of course, whilst this could also be seen as selfish I would imagine that in 1994, betting this much on renewable energy was a somewhat corageous move!

I look forward to Juan describing this in more detail later today. Perhaps a case for the Leading Organisations of Tomorrow Research Matt??

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