What Makes a Good Deal? the Changing Role of CSR in Corporate Culture

Article excerpt

IAN JARMAN

Position Chief Executive Officer

Organization Spring Worldwide Limited

In the private sector, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes are no longer an optional luxury but are becoming an integral part of "good" corporate governance and strategy. There is also a growing recognition and acceptance that collaborative public-private partnerships (PPPs) can deliver mutually desired outcomes. But how to strike a good deal?

TF: What are the key factors in a successful PPP?

IJ: There are several, but the main priorities are having a clear understanding of your own objectives and those of the other parties, and a mutually acceptable agreement on the desired outcome of the project. There also needs to be a genuine desire and capability to collaborate.

TF: What are the fundamental components of a successful collaboration?

IJ: From the outset, there needs to be a realistic understanding of each party's capabilities and a pragmatic commitment to provide the necessary resources to support the partnership. It's also important to have a long-term view of the project with realistic short- and medium-term goals to check and refine progress along the way. Partners have to be able to refer to each other openly, transparently, accountably and frequently to deal with challenges as they arise.

TF: With so many potentially different agendas, how can you ensure a deal is balanced?

IJ: If the partnership truly understands and believes in the common goal, it will be driven by the collective beneficial solutions and common agreement on the sharing of risks, rewards, strengths and value of the deal in order to satisfy each party's specific objectives.

TF: Are the legal aspects of PPPs more complex than a single-sector deal?

IJ: Not really. In any agreement, each party's intentions must be clear so the principles of cross-sector agreements are no different to others. The complexity may arise if the parties' intentions are not evident or well documented from the outset.

TF: What are some of the most common mistakes you've seen in negotiating PPPs?

IJ: It's important to avoid using a fixed template, having a one-size-fits-all mentality. No two PPPs are the same; every partnership is like a fingerprint--unique in its own way. A CSR programme for a mining company will be very different to that of a retail company, for example.

TF: What are the emerging trends in CSR?

IJ: The notion of CSR is rapidly changing. What was considered a specific CSR activity a few years ago is now regarded as integral to a well-run business. Companies are increasingly recognizing the commercial, social, environmental and cultural benefits of taking a more collaborative approach to achieving business objectives. …