Monthly Archives: September 2016

Quality Education for Smart, Inclusive and Sustainable Growth

imagesThe promotion of quality education has re-emerged as an important policy objective across many countries during the past decade. For instance, the aims of Europe 2020 strategy (that was launched in 2010) were to improve the EU’s competitiveness and productivity that underpin a sustainable social market economy (EU, 2010 a,b). The strategy identified three priorities as the main pillars of this strategy:

  • Smart growth—developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation;
  • Sustainable growth—promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy; and
  • Inclusive growth—fostering a high-employment economy delivering economic, social and territorial cohesion (Pasimeni & Pasimeni, 2015).

Significant investments have already been made across the globe to raise relevant competencies that help to improve social outcomes (e.g. social inclusion, social equity and social capital) since these are known to affect educational and labour market success.

In a similar vein, the fourth United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) and its 10 targets represent an ambitious and universal agenda to develop better skills for better lives. Five of its 10 targets are concerned with improving the quality of education for individual children, young people and adults, and to give them better and more relevant knowledge and skills. During the last few decades; major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels; from school readiness among young children through achieving literacy and numeracy at primary school, increasing enrolment rates in schools particularly for women and girls to equipping young adults with knowledge and skills for decent work and global citizenship (UNSDG4, 2015). In this light, the SDG4’s targets are the following (UNSDG4, 2015):

Quality education

By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes;

By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education;

By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university;

By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship;

By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations;

By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy;

By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development;

Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all;

By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries. By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states (UNSDG4, 2015).

However, The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) the world’s most widely used global metric to measure the quality of learning outcomes, as well as its adult version, the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), underlined that although many countries may have  their children in school; only a proportion of them achieve adequate levels of proficiency by the end of lower secondary education (PISA, 2012). This finding does not augur well for economic, social and sustainable development.

Bolder efforts are required to make even greater strides to achieve the sustainable development goal of quality education for all. A centralised educational policy may help to achieve the desired outcomes. Well-laid out curricula are capable of successfully developing the full potential of lifelong learners. In addition, the government’s policies of taxation and redistribution of income may also help to counteract inequalities in some segments of society.

The provision of quality education introduces certain mechanisms that equip people with relevant knowledge and skills that they need for today’s labour market. Active employment policies are required to help unemployed people find work. The overall objective of the employability programmes is the reintegration of jobseekers and the inactive individuals into the labour market as well as the provision of assistance to employed persons to secure and advance in their job prospects.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, sustainable development

Stakeholder engagement for corporate citizenship (in the U.S.A.)

thm3rqcunjThe US government agencies and the bureaus regulatory policies and principles are creating both challenging opportunities and threats for the businesses. Evidently, the institutional legacies are affecting the ways in which civil society, industry and NGOs interact together (Camilleri, 2015). This reasoning echoes the legitimacy theory as heterogenous, competing groups of stakeholders often expect and solicit social and environmentally responsible behaviours from businesses. Debatably, the U.S. government and its agencies should ensure that the true ecological cost of environmental degradation and climate change is felt in the market. In this light, there may be scope for U.S.  authorities to promote responsible behaviors.

 

For instance, recently there is an increased awareness on the circular economies that are characterised by their resource efficiency levels and cleaner production through recycling, reducing and reusing materials (EU, 2015; Geng, Fu, Sarkis and Xue, 2012; Geng and Doberstein, 2008).

US corporations should be urged to find alternative ways for sustainable energy generation, energy and water conservation, environmental protection and greener transportation systems. This way, they will be considered as legitimate businesses; as their corporate performance matches their stakeholders’ expectations (Camilleri, 2016; 2015). The organisations’ implementation of their legitimation strategy could include voluntary and solicited CSR disclosures that address norms, values or beliefs of stakeholders (Reverte, 2009). Responsible companies could be in a position to prevent third-party pressures through their engagement in social responsibility practices and sustainable behaviours. At the same time, they could lower the criticisms from the public and minimise their legal cases through their active compliance with regulations and guiding principles.

The organisations’ legitimacy is a critical driver for a dynamic institutional and organisational change (Tost, 2011). The organisations’ evaluative process was also suggested by Scherer et al. (2013) as they discussed about the corporations’ isomorphic adaptation to societal pressures. Yet, such political perspectives have often been considered as being overly normative (Kuhn and Deetz, 2008; Scherer and Palazzo, 2007) and of neglecting the complexity of the debates between corporations and society. Baur and Arenas (2014) also noted that the regulated interactions and the consensus building may not be required if corporations address the sustainable development issues. However, the responsible behavioural issues often call for the re-negotiation of social, economic, and environmental factors among regulatory authorities and other interested parties.

Indeed, addressing the environmental protection often requires shifting through a multitude of complex and often contradictory demands of stakeholders (Camilleri, 2015; Freeman, 2010; Hardy & Phillips, 1998) that are defined beyond nation-state governance institutions. Multiple ethical systems, cultural backgrounds, and rules of behaviour could possibly coexist within the same communities (Scherer & Palazzo, 2007) as the legitimacy of the business community around sustainable development issues is often being challenged (Porter & Kramer, 2011; Scherer & Palazzo, 2011).

Therefore, the stakeholder engagement processes are important instruments for legitimacy building as the pluralist nature of US politics encourages the formation of lobby groups and associations that are often regarded as legitimate representatives (Camilleri, 2016; Doh and Guay, 2006). Other previous research also contended that the legitimacy in resolving social responsibility and sustainable development issues often requires ‘the ability to establish trust-based collaborative relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders especially those with non-economic goals (Sharma & Vredenburg, 1998, p. 735). These stakeholders may have an accepted role in influencing the public policy process.

 

Excerpt from: Camilleri, M.A. (2016) Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility Policies in the United States of America. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy (Forthcoming)

References

Baur, D. and Arenas, D. (2014), “The value of unregulated business-NGO interaction a deliberative perspective”, Business & Society, Vol. 53 No 2, pp. 157-186.
Camilleri, M..A. (2015), “Valuing Stakeholder Engagement and Sustainability Reporting”, Corporate Reputation Review, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 210-222.
Camilleri, M. A. (2016), “Corporate sustainability and responsibility toward education”, Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 7, No 1.
Doh, J.P. and Guay, T.R. (2006), “Corporate social responsibility, public policy, and NGO activism in Europe and the United States: An Institutional‐Stakeholder perspective”, Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 43 No. 1, pp. 47-73.
E.U. (2015), “Research and Innovation Industry 2020 in the Circular Economy” (Call identifier: H2020-IND-CE-2016-17. http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/opportunities/h2020/calls/h2020-ind-ce-2016-17.html#c,topics=callIdentifier/t/H2020-IND-CE-2016-17/1/1/1&callStatus/t/Forthcoming/1/1/0&callStatus/t/Open/1/1/0&callStatus/t/Closed/1/1/0
Freeman, R. E. (2010), “Strategic management: A stakeholder approach”, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Geng, Y. and Doberstein, B. (2008), “Developing the circular economy in China: Challenges and opportunities for achieving’leapfrog development”, The International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, Vol. 15 No 3, pp. 231-239.
Geng, Y., Fu, J., Sarkis, J. and Xue, B. (2012), “Towards a national circular economy indicator system in China: an evaluation and critical analysis”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 23 No 1, pp. 216-224.
Hardy, C. and Phillips, N. (1998). “Strategies of engagement: Lessons from the critical examination of collaboration and conflict in an interorganizational domain”, Organization science, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 217-230.
Kuhn, T. and Deetz, S. (2008), “Critical theory and corporate social responsibility: Can/should we get beyond cynical reasoning”, In Crane, A., McWilliams, A., Matten, D., Moon, J. and Siegel, D., The Oxford handbook of corporate social responsibility, pp. 173-196.
Porter, M.E. and Kramer, M.R. (2011). “Creating shared value: How to reinvent capitalism and unleash a wave of innovation and growth”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 89 Nos. 1-2, pp. 62–77.
Reverte, C. (2009), “Determinants of corporate social responsibility disclosure ratings by Spanish listed firms”, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 88 No. 2, pp. 351-366.
Sharma, S. and Vredenburg, H. (1998), “Proactive corporate environmental strategy and the development of competitively valuable organizational capabilities”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 19 No. 8, pp. 729-753.
Scherer, A. G. and Palazzo, G. (2007), “Toward a political conception of corporate responsibility: Business and society seen from a Habermasian perspective”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 32 No.4, pp. 1096-1120.
Scherer, A. G. and Palazzo, G. (2011). “The new political role of business in a globalized world: A review of a new perspective on CSR and its implications for the firm, governance, and democracy”, Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 48 No. 4, pp. 899-931.
Tost, L.P. (2011), “An integrative model of legitimacy judgments”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 686-710.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Circular Economy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, CSR, Stakeholder Engagement