Companies can make a major contribution to their community by doing the thing they do best - innovating. Instead of treating corporate responsibility (CSR) as a bolt-on reputation management issue, companies should direct human resources from their core business to developing innovative solutions to social problems.
The public sector should not see corporate social innovation (CSI) as a form of back-door privatisation. It is precisely where companies are not core service providers that they have the space to develop new approaches to intractable social problems, as the case studies examined in this report show. By placing the emphasis on corporate social innovation, companies can initiate community projects without fear of ending up as a public service provider if the project succeeds. They should focus on experimentation, not provision.
'The more superficial arguments for using business expertise in government and public service delivery have run into the sand. Public-private partnerships do not automatically create a more efficient use of resources. But the Government does need a stream of ideas and corporate social innovation could be a major supplier of new thinking'
Rachel Jupp was a senior researcher at Demos