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Hank Fu

Section 23
Rangan, K., Chase, L., & Karim, S. (2015). The Truth About CSR. Harvard Business Review,
93(1/2), 40-49.
This review is intended to examine and study the central themes and main points from the
article The Truth About CSR. The authors of the article assert that business organizations must
change their CSR activities in a way that places huge emphasis on the main goal of CSR: to
align a companys social and environmental activities with its business purpose and values
(Rangan, Chase, & Karim, 42). The authors also add that it is necessary for the companies to
implement an organized, thorough system that develops and promotes coherent CSR strategies.
The authors obtained their philosophy and belief mainly through their research findings and
several real-life examples that support their claims.
The authors argue that the CSR strategies that most companies practice are too broad in
scope, in which the CSR runs the gamut from pure philanthropy to environmental sustainability
to the active pursuit of shared value (Rangan et al., 42). In other words, the focus of the
companies CSR practices must be specific and precise. According to the article, the main
problem is that the managers who are in charge of the CSR programs tend to be uncoordinated,
diverse, and dissimilar in nature and character. This means that even though there is a high
CEOs involvement, the important element of active engagement is lacking. As a result, these
organizations find it extremely difficult to exhibit positive influence or effect on the communities
that their operations affect.
To cultivate consistency and strengthen coordination among CSR programs,
organizations must divide their CSR activities into three particular theaters of practice. The
authors mention that theater one would focus on the philanthropic programs. These programs are

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Section 23
not intended to generate profits for or boost business performance of the companies. In fact, they
are merely donations, charities, or volunteers. Next, theater two consists of programs that serve
to deliver social or environmental benefits in ways that support a companys operations across
the value chain, often improving efficiency and effectiveness (Rangan et al., 43). Programs in
this theater may reduce operation costs of companies by attempting to cut down the use of
resources; additionally, they may also improve companies productivity and efficiency through
the investments in the workers education and working conditions. Lastly, theater three would
include programs that create new forms of business specifically to address social or
environmental challenges (Rangan et al., 43). Theater three would enhance financial
performance while aiming to achieve positive social and environmental impacts, or shared
Simply creating the three theaters is not enough; companies must ensure that the CSR
programs are aligned with the companies purpose and values. Also, companies must also
measure the performance and impacts of CSR programs and bring these programs across the
three theaters together as a whole. In their research, the authors discovered that organizations
must implement a four-step process in order to generate a unified platform. The first step,
according to the authors, is to bring consistency to CSR practices within the three theaters. The
authors state that an organization must eliminate practices that are not intended to achieve the
main goal of CSR. The CSR activities must all be consistent with the organizations identity and
purpose and have a valuable social goal that the company cares about (Rangan et al., 45). The
second step for the companies is to figure out a way to measure the performance of the programs,
whether it is intangible or tangible. The measurements may include nonfinancial productions,

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impacts of cost reduction, or the social and environmental benefits. Step three requires strong
coordination and management across the three theaters. In other words, the initiatives must be
mutually reinforcing and consistent with the firms business purpose and values (Rangan et al.,
47). Finally, the fourth step requires every company to create an interdisciplinary CSR strategy.
The authors points out that each organization should have its own coordinator who is responsible
for regularly convening the key players in each theater to ensure ongoing communication and
alignment (Rangan et al., 48).
The article effectively achieves its goal of informing the readers about the importance of
implementing a system that enhances coherence to CSR programs because the authors presented
many detailed explanations and descriptions of supporting evidence. The article teaches the
readers that the main goal of CSR is to align a companys purpose and values with its social and
environmental practices. Moreover, the article provides a clear path, or solution, for companies
to follow in order to attain maximum positive impact socially and environmentally. The biggest
strength of the article is that it mentions successful real-life examples that promote its central
lesson. For instance, the authors point out that Ambuja and IKEA are two groups that have
succeeded in achieving their CSR goal after taking the effective tactics and approaches to CSR
strategy improvement that the article presented.
In short, the article shows that by dividing CSR programs into different theaters and
generating coherence across the theaters, companies can eventually achieve their goal of
maximizing the positive influence and effects that they have on their respective social and
environmental systems without losing sights of their business purpose and identity. Further

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research on successful organizations as a result of taking the articles approach is recommended.
This study is important because it helps companies attain their CSR goal in an effective manner.