Social Responsibility as a Precondition of Innovation in Higher Education

Social Responsibility as a Precondition of Innovation in Higher Education

Matjaž Mulej (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Maribor, Slovenia & IRDO Institute for the Development of Social Responsibility, Maribor, Slovenia) and Miro Mihec (Etika d.o.o., Slovenia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2708-5.ch003

Abstract

The word innovation defines both the process and its outcome. Here, the authors focus on the innovation process in terms of its human success preconditions attained by practicing social responsibility (SR). In the globally passed/valid ISO 26.000, SR's essence lies in synergy of: (1) one's responsibility for one's impact on society; (2) interdependence; and (3) a holistic approach; seven principles, i.e. human and organizational attributes support SR behavior. With them, the innovation process is easier to manage. Innovation is complex: one of 3.000 ideas becomes innovation. It includes many phases and different professions practicing SR to support holistic behavior preventing failures. On the other hand, higher education works per specialized faculties, etc., making SR hard to practice, but possible. Usual curricula favor narrow specialty without creative interdisciplinary cooperation. Due to lack of holism, interdependence, and responsibility, higher education offers more inventions than innovations. Cases cover the University of Maribor and the Association Social Economy Slovenia.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction: The Selected Topic And Viewpoint Of Consideration

Innovation can be seen as a result and a process of generation of new knowledge and values, beneficial in the practice of its users; generation of them takes place in a complex process requiring interdisciplinary creative cooperation (see Figure 1). The Figure 1 demonstrates that innovation is influential, full of feedbacks, and complex, hence cybernetic, process needing systemic behavior to attain the requisite holism of approach and requisite wholeness of its outcome, which is a new benefit of the practical users of the new idea (references in: Mulej et al., 2013). In the higher education, one practices a narrow specialization, unavoidably. Hence, innovation is difficult to create, although many inventions and even potential innovations can result. Capacity and values of creative interdisciplinary cooperation, as an outcome, and background, of systemic behavior, are often missing, due to over-specialized education. Social responsibility (SR) might be a path toward this crucial capacity, and hence toward innovation as a process and innovation as its outcome. This is the authors’ experience after decades of research and practice in the area of non-technological innovation (Mulej, since 1974, in several countries; Mihec, since 1995).

There were four phases observed of development of the basis of competitiveness (Porter, 1990, in Mulej et al., 2013), including innovation in all millennia and exposing it more than ever in the recent few centuries and decades:

  • 1.

    Owning the natural resources (causing wars and colonies, including today, as a crucial side-effect of the un-holistic behavior).

  • 2.

    Investing into the use of natural resources (causing the power of capital owners, as a crucial side-effect of the un-holistic behavior).

  • 3.

    Innovation for a better use of natural resources and investment (causing the affluence of the innovative ones and power-holders at the detriment of others, as a crucial side-effect of the un-holistic behavior).

  • 4.

    Affluence, as a crucial side effect of the un-holistic behavior of the innovation phase. It is no good base for competitiveness. Affluence kills ambition to have more, once one has everything needed. One, hence, gives up the hard work rather than free time and leisure. Therefore, tourism flourishes now like never before, and so does the drugs abuse, because the free time has a poor content. Huge amounts of potential capital are there in tax heaves with no real benefit for either the society or the owners, who do not need that money). 85% of humankind, even before the crisis of 2008 and later, including now, had less than six dollars a day (Nixon, 2004, in Mulej, 2013) and could not engage in innovation efforts except the daily survival demanding other kinds of creativity than the affluent 15% of humankind need.

Within a new fifth phase, it is necessary to make a socially responsible society rather than cause extinction of humankind (Mulej et al., 2019). Therefore, the global humankind’s bodies claimed SR to be the necessary response to the current crisis and briefed it in ISO 26000 (ISO, 2010). Millions of contributions on the websites on SR support this fact. The decisive persons’ and organizations’ over-simplification and un-holistic behavior causes this need with their treatment of reality, causing oversights and resulting mistakes, including world wars and other terrible processes. Hence, humankind needs socially responsible innovation to master its complexity and to overcome the practice where only one out of about 3.000 ideas becomes innovation; this need exposes higher education providing high and narrow skills.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sustainable and Socially Responsible University of Maribor: UM practices sustainability and social responsibility with several hundred listed activities, in all documents and informally.

Innovation: Process transforming a new idea via invention via suggestion and potential innovation as a new benefit, technological or non-technological, of its users in practice. One can distinguish over 50 types of innovations. Innovation is complex: one of 3.000 ideas becomes innovation. It includes many phases and different professions practicing SR to support holistic behavior preventing failures.

Social Responsibility: In the globally passed/valid ISO 26.000, SR’s essence lies in synergy of (1) one’s responsibility for one’s impact on society, (2) interdependence, and (3) holistic approach; seven principles, i.e. human and organizational attributes support SR behavior. SR enjoys support of UNO, EU and organizations finding honesty more beneficial that the short-term and narrow-minded profit. SR is crucial for humanity’s survival and overcoming the crisis resulting from neoliberal business monopolies over the global economy.

Association Social Economy-Slovenia: It unites organizations that pursuit entrepreneurial activity through the production and sale of products or the provision of services in a market. Profit generation is not their main goal, but achievement of social effects.” It tries to introduce the ‘Yunus’ concept in Slovenia and to establish an international education program on social economy management, etc.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset