Improvement in Higher Education: The Role of Chairs in University Social Responsibility

Improvement in Higher Education: The Role of Chairs in University Social Responsibility

Dolores Gallardo Vázquez (Universidad de Extremadura, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3525-6.ch015


Given the current context of globalization, institutions of higher education must implement the strategy of university social responsibility in order to be more competitive. The attention paid to relevant agents of interest becomes of utmost importance since this strategy highlights the links that universities and companies can generate. Although the first alliances in corporate social responsibility in Spain were terminated between companies and entities of the third sector, later, this kind of collaboration was established by universities. This has included the creation of academic chairs in corporate or university social responsibility. Their fundamental purpose is to promote socially responsible behaviors through training and initiatives, including a series of projects that can lead to clear improvements in higher education. Universities are nourished by their contacts with companies and other institutions and the financial support that this collaboration entails, while companies benefit from universities' contribution of knowledge that can be shared with society at large.
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The process of globalization and internationalization of capital markets and the importance of transparency are some aspects that have clearly encouraged organizations’ increased focus on harmonious, responsible, and sustainable development (SD) (Lizcano, 2002; Figge & Hahn, 2004; Anderson & Bieniaszewska, 2005; Mikkila, 2005; Oskarsson & von Malmborg, 2005; Hahn & Scheermesser, 2006; Gallardo & Castilla, 2007). This implies working in ways that include a significant level of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Consequently, the practical considerations of this approach involve integrating it into a defined organizational strategy (Lyon, 2004; Anderson & Bieniaszewska, 2005; Oskarsson & von Malmborg, 2005; Secchi, 2006). This means that, currently, as part of their strategy, every organization voluntarily provides social responsibility (SR) information that does not damage their own interests or those of third parties but, instead, constitutes socially responsible behavior (Gallardo & Castilla, 2007).

The European Union (EU) published a report in 2001 with the title “Green Book: Promoting a European Framework for Corporate Social Responsibility.” This document defines CSR as “the voluntary integration by companies of social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders” (EU, 2001, p. 20). Recently, this definition has been revised to include “the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society,” making explicit references to the need for collaboration with stakeholders to “integrate social, environmental and ethical concerns, respect for the human rights and consumer concerns into their business operations and core strategy” (EU, 2011, p. 7). CSR is recognized as a viable route to solving the problems of poverty, social exclusion, and environmental degradation (Van Marrewijk, 2003; Merino & Valor, 2011; Velásquez, 2012). At the same time, CSR must include relationships with stakeholders, which ensure the satisfaction of all parties and the achievement of specific benefits derived from these collaborations. CSR relationships were studied by De la Cuesta, Valor, Sanmartín, and Botija (2002, p. 11), who defined these as “the recognition and integration in their operations by the company or organization of social and environmental concerns, leading to business practices that meet those concerns and define their relationships with their partners.”

Key Terms in this Chapter

Network of USR Chairs: This group was formed by a number of universities that collaborate toward a common objective—the promotion of CSR in universities.

Corporate Social Responsibility: This is the voluntary integration of social, economic, and environmental concerns in the daily activities of companies, organizations, and institutions.

University Social Responsibility: When universities integrate a SR vision into their strategies, these institutions are concerned about promoting economic, social, and environmental initiatives in their four main tasks: teaching, researching, managing, and disseminating knowledge to society.

Chairs in USR: This is a form of collaboration between universities and companies that promotes initiatives in the area of CSR.

Sustainable Development: This term includes any development initiatives in organizations that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

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