Social Responsibility and the Management of Technology and Innovation

Social Responsibility and the Management of Technology and Innovation

Globalization, the explosion of information technology, advances in the biological sciences, and the growth of democracy and diversity can be considered among the positive developments in our world today. On the other hand, poverty, environmental crises such as global warming, epidemics such as AIDS, and terrorism are also part of today’s world. What do these positive and negative aspects have in common? They reflect the breathtaking increase in global interdependence and local communities are increasingly affected by organization’s social responsibility and their management of technology.

Four propositions are suggested as a basis for a theory of social responsibility for a modern business organization in order to measure its social responsibility: “(1) the underlying purpose of a business organization is to satisfy human needs; (2) a business must satisfy the needs of its customers, employees, owners, suppliers, creditors, community, managers, government, and society at large; (3) an individual will participate in a business organization when he sees that the organization will contribute goods and services whose benefits are greater than the burdens he must make to obtain them; (4) a mutual self-interest between the organization and each of its contributors must exist before a firm can be called socially responsible”(Raffaele, 72).

The world consumer is becoming more aware of corporate social responsibility since an avalanche of corporate scandal like Enron and WorldCom flooded the U.S. business arena in the early 2000’s. Investors worldwide are warming up to socially responsible firms. This indicates that people everywhere are placing a greater importance on social responsibility. Society in general places a high value on privacy, as demonstrated by consumer advocacy groups within the United States.

“Tesco, a European-based multinational retailer, was almost boycotted after it announced it was going to start tagging individual DVDs. Findings from a recent online survey conducted in Europe illustrate the enormous importance of personal privacy concerns held by consumers regarding RFID technology. Over half of the 2000 respondents reported that they were concerned with privacy issues related to RFID”( Reinhart, 287).

The results indicate that participants are more likely to buy products containing RFID if laws are instituted for the protection of personal privacy. Therefore, all companies striving to be socially responsible must address privacy issues.

The task of evaluating technologies for development in complex projects is very difficult, but is essential to planning and decision making. The stakeholder must define the criteria beforehand. Technology impact on requirements, probability of failure, and relevance are all key metrics to be considered in the technology selection process. Tools have been developed that allow project management to utilize teams of subject-matter experts to synthesize quantitative and qualitative data into estimates of risk, both for probability of failure and for impact of failure on systems requirements.

“Internet-Accessible Technology Risk Assessment Computer System (ITRACS) is an Internet-based software system that allows assessment of technologies by individual evaluators in different locations. The Internet-accessible software tool enables each team member to individually estimate the probability distribution of each technology and programmatic risk metric. After all individual assessments are entered via the Internet, the ITRACS software combines them into a single collaborative estimate of the probability over the value range of each metric. The software is also used to generate risk assessment report cards for each technology development project”(Alan and Lord, 3-10).

Given the potential variety in the nature of the mechanisms, as well as significant costs associated with implementation, a critical challenge for managers is to make systematic choices among mechanisms. This requires a clear articulation of the rationale for observed variation in effects.

“A relationship manager (RM) has been found to play a key role in enabling users to integrate technical and business knowledge. The very fact that such individuals are tightly linked to the users in a specific business area like marketing, ensures that they have sufficient knowledge about the business context and are capable of acting as an effective interface between the IS and the users”(Nambisan, 365).

Often, IS managers and top management envision corporate IT strategies that are not easily comprehended by everyday users of the technology. RMs can narrow this gap between the vision of top management and the reality experienced by users by facilitating conversion of tacit knowledge held by both groups with respect to technology applications into explicit knowledge about specific products and application ideas.

Faced with the current challenges of environmental uncertainty and globalization, firms can no longer follow a policy of static equilibrium. Instead, they must evolve dynamically by interacting with various affiliates, such as vendors, governments, consumers, suppliers, and competitors if they want to be socially responsible.

Works Cited

ELIZABETH REINHART, et al. “RFID and Corporate Responsibility: Hidden Costs in RFID Implementation.” Business & Society Review (00453609) 111.3 (2006): 287-303. Business Source Premier. EBSCO. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.

Nambisan, Satish, Ritu Agarwal, and Mohan Tanniru. “ORGANIZATIONAL MECHANISMS FOR ENHANCING USER INNOVATION IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY.” MIS Quarterly 23.3 (1999): 365-395. Business Source Premier. EBSCO. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.

Raffaele, J. A. “The Social Management of Technology.” Academy of Management Proceedings (00650668) (1974): 72. Business Source Premier. EBSCO. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.

Wilhite, Alan, and Robert Lord. “Estimating the Risk of Technology Development.” Engineering Management Journal 18.3 (2006): 3-10. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.

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