Innovation in Higher Education: The Experience of Socially Responsible Universities

Innovation in Higher Education: The Experience of Socially Responsible Universities

Dolores Gallardo-Vázquez, M. Isabel Sánchez-Hernández, M. Luisa Pajuelo-Moreno
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8216-0.ch014
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The issue of Corporate Social Responsibility has received increasing attention over the last few years. Organizations are introducing socially responsible practices in their strategies in order to be more competitive. At the same time, universities are also aware of the importance of the triple organizational vision (economic, social and environmental) and they are making a lot of actions to improve their performance. In this chapter, the authors state that innovation in Higher Education is an important fact and express the experience of innovation from socially responsible universities. These entities have to know their current state and the future demands from the different stakeholders with the intention of satisfy them. This chapter studies how to drive innovation and how to structure it at the university context, how to inform about University Social Responsibility and, finally, the benefits for socially responsible universities. Finally, in this chapter the authors link three important topics today: Corporate Social Responsibility, Universities, and Innovation. As a result, they propose a set of aspects in which Universities could innovate by improving their social responsibility.
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In recent years, various circumstances are affecting the development of economic issues, such as the process of globalization in which we are immersed, the internationalization of capital markets and their important transparency, aspects which have clearly determined the focus of organizations towards an harmonious, responsible and sustainable development (Bansal, 2002; Lizcano, 2002; Figge & Hahn, 2004; Anderson & Bieniaszewska, 2005; Mikkila, 2005; Oskarsson & von Malmborg, 2005; Hahn & Scheermesser, 2006; Gallardo & Castilla, 2007), i.e., working in a way that implies a certain Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The issue of CSR requires that the field will not simply integrate CSR into existing models but will also examine some of the underlying beliefs of those models that are challenged by CSR, because social and environmental policies are not philanthropy, not public relations, and not marketing, but social and environmental issues can affect its financial performance, so new concerns such as equity and efficiency presented by the CSR in a globalized world (Heal, 2008).

Consequently, the consideration of this concept involves integrating it in defining organizational strategy (Lyon, 2004; Anderson & Bieniaszewska, 2005; Oskarsson & von Malmborg, 2005; Secchi, 2006). This means that, today, as part of its strategy, every organization will provide voluntarily social responsibility information that will not damage or their own interests or those of third parties, that is, to offer a socially responsible behavior (Gallardo & Castilla, 2007), what has been accompanied by an increase in accounting research in this field (Van der Laan Smith, Adhikari & Tondkar, 2005).In the new economy, we can say that a number of factors have changed the equation of sustainability, to the point that “the failure to incorporate the principles of sustainability in economic practices will push the company / organization to “hit the wall” both socially and ecologically”(Bell, 2002, p.3). What we cannot fail to admit is that today very few organizations remain immune to the developments taking place in recent years, referred for responsible practices.

The European Union (EU), an institution that is betting on the homogenization of socially responsible actions, published in 2001, the report called “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). Corporations increasingly adopt CSR program to “contribute to a better society and a cleaner environment” (EU, 2001, p.5).Recently, this definition has been renewed pointing “the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society” and making explicit reference 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). Although CSR is recognized as a viable routed to solve poverty, social exclusion, and environmental degradation (Merino & Valor, 2001; Van Marrewijk, 2003; Velásquez, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

University Social Responsibility: University which has integrated the Social Responsibility vision in its strategy, it is concerned of doing economic, social and environmental actions in their four specific working tasks: teaching, research, management and projection to society.

Sustainability Performance: Results obtained by companies in the fields of sustainability.

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

University Social Responsibility Report: Inform elaborated by Universities socially responsible in order to collect all kind of actions carried out in the four specific working tasks and with all the stakeholders it relates to.

Sustainable Development: The development in organizations which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own.

European Higher Education Area: Multi-country space to ensure more comparable, compatible and coherent systems of higher education in Europe.

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