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December 18, 2001

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Third generation corporate citizenship: Public policy and business in society

Simon Zadek

The role of business in society is one of the most important and contentious public policy issues of our age. Public cycnicism about corporate power, fuelled by NGO campaigns, has reached levels that not only leave companies vulnerable, but also threaten the consensus for globalisation itself. And though governments recognise that companies will play an essential role in everything from tackling economic development to creating clean technologies, they have not found a way of linking the corporate citizenship debate to their public policy goals.

Simon Zadek argues that for corporate citizenship to work there needs to be a decisive move beyond individual leadership, philanthropic gestures and PR stunts towards collective action with governments and civil society organisations, what he calls Third Generation Corporate Citizenship. He sets out an agenda for business in society, taking into account progress so far and shows how through a combination of ‘sticks and carrots’ governments can play a fuller role in developing new alliances that will amke globalisation sustainable..

Third Generation Corporate Citizenship is not just required reading for public and voluntary sector policy makers and corporate leaders – it is a vital primer for reshaping the debate on globalisation. It launches a new strand of The Foreign Policy Centre’s programme on the role of companies in global society.

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