Just good businessApril 2009
Kellie A. McElhaney. Paperback. 272 pages. Berrett-Koehler £14.44/ $29.95
This do-it-yourself offering on corporate responsibility and branding works well as an easy introduction to both subjects. But given its brevity and the level it’s pitched at, it’s unlikely to gain much traction among either brand specialists or CSR experts. Rather, it will probably find a happy home on the shelves of the uninitiated.
The book is structured in three sections – an introduction to CSR and branding; the so-called ‘seven rules of the road’ (know thyself, get a good fit, be consistent, simplify, work from the inside out, know your customer and tell your story); and ‘what to do on Monday morning’. The latter gives a good sense of the intended style and contribution of the book. It is meant to be a practical guide, and as a set of first steps it probably succeeds.
Extremely light on any supporting academic research or theory in CSR or branding – which is surprising from an author who is adjunct professor of corporate responsibility at the University of California – it feels more like an airport book than a serious treatment of the subject.
Its strength is undoubtedly its accessible style and liberal sprinkling of examples. But it’s weakness is that it’s full of the usual feel-good rhetoric about corporate responsibility. This is unlikely to sit easily with managers’ experience of the less utopian corporate world, where CSR costs as often as it pays and is an exercise in subtle persuasion and inherent contradictions rather than a self-evident truth. But then CSR managers do not appear to be this book’s main audience.
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