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Are we all just chasing rainbows?

Professor Steve Carter, Professor of Marketing

Faculty Blog

At a recent conference I attended in the USA, a speaker told us about the four ‘must happens’ for success in the world in business over the next few years: entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and corporate social responsibility (CSR). How many times have we heard this? And for how many years have academics been researching and teaching it (for example, in Module 4 of Edinburgh Business School’s Marketing course and in its Leadership course)? For how many years have practitioners been attempting to put it into action?

I got to thinking about CSR in particular. I may be a cynic, but isn’t this a ‘rainbow concept’, forever admired but very rarely truly captured?

And is this because the emphasis, laudably, has been on the ‘overt’ (for example, ethically sourced raw materials, unethical work practices by marketers and others, pollution control, etc.) while the real problem lies in the ‘covert’ (for example, deals done at high level between politicians and business)?

How do you research that? And the solution? Transparency! Yet another ‘rainbow concept’?