The Four Approaches to Social Responsibility

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

Social responsibility has to do with whether a company chooses to have a relationship with the community and environment in which it is situated. Learn about the different approaches companies take to fulfill or avoid these responsibilities. Updated: 12/21/2021

What Is Social Responsibility?

Meet Hope! Hope owns a business where they make baby blankets. When Hope first started her business, she was determined to be successful no matter what it cost. She worked long hours until she was able to take her startup company of only 5 employees and create a huge company that employed over 100 employees. While Hope's company has grown substantially, she feels that she is missing something. That is when she came across an article that discussed embracing relationships with the society where a business operates. What she was essentially reading about was social responsibility, which is the focus of this lesson.

Let's begin by defining a key concept. Social responsibility is the thought that a company should build relationships with both the society and the environment where it's located. It means valuing those relationships with society, customers, and employees, and not being totally consumed with only maximizing profits. For our friend Hope, up until she came across this article, she was more driven by profits than anything else. She had totally forgotten about the community that supports and helps provide business.

In this section we will look at the different approaches a company can take to become socially responsible. These four approaches are obstructive, defensive, accommodating, and proactive.

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  • 0:04 What is Social Responsibility?
  • 1:25 Obstructive
  • 1:58 Defensive
  • 2:32 Accommodating
  • 3:19 Proactive
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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1. Obstructive

Perhaps the most deceitful approach to social responsibility is obstructive. Obstruct means to block or get in the way, so an obstructive stance blocks out its social responsibilities. It's more concerned with profits. Obstructive companies are known to pollute, deceive customers, and even exploit their own employees. Hope has decided that she does not want her business viewed in a negative manner and values the society that has helped her achieve success. Therefore, she will not be taking an obstructive approach.

2. Defensive

This type of approach isn't as appalling as obstructive, but a company taking a defensive approach could certainly do better at meeting its social responsibility. A company that uses a defensive approach is sure to follow the law so that legal action can't be taken against it, but the main focus is on profits. For example, if Hope's company threw away an abundance of fabric that could be used for other products, but made sure to dump it legally at the landfill instead of dumping it on the side of the road, it would be taking a defensive approach.

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