“How can companies help change people’s behaviour to benefit society?”
Based on 123 leading academic and industry sources from 1992 to 2012, this report:
- Reveals the three conditions necessary for changing people’s behaviour.
- Provides 19 mechanisms companies can use to drive positive behaviour change, and a checklist for managing change projects.
- Includes case studies from two organizations that have led social change projects.
While many of the examples in this report come from the non-profit and public sectors, business leaders in every sector can apply these practices to the social change projects they initiate.
Watch How to Drive Social Change, presented by NBS and Ute Stephan, lead researcher of the Social Change Systematic Review.
In the fall of 2011, a group of Canadian business leaders asked, “How can companies help change people’s behaviour to benefit society?” These leaders recognized the benefits of addressing environmental and social issues. In addition to fostering goodwill among employees, customers and community members, strategic social innovation can create new industries and open up new markets. Retailers of personal care products that encourage people to wash their hands sell more soap while reducing the spread of disease. Software companies that send employees to developing countries to train locals in business and technical skills build a base of prospective employees for themselves and their partners while helping people lift themselves out of poverty.
The Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) commissioned an international research team to conduct a systematic review on the topic of business-driven social change. The team included professors Ute Stephan and Malcolm Patterson, and doctoral researcher Ciara Kelly, all at the University of Sheffield (UK) at the time of the review. This report is an adaptation of that systematic review.
Who Should Read This Report
This report is for directors of philanthropy, community relations, corporate citizenship and corporate social responsibility (CSR). It is for social entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders. Ultimately, this report is for anyone who wants to lead social innovation by triggering changes in people’s behaviour.
What is “Social Change”?
Social change is defined as the changes people make to their behaviour that, when taken collectively, benefit society. Examples of social change range from the simple—increased numbers of people voting, recycling or donating to charity—to the complex: reduced domestic violence, lower student drop-out rates, increased entrepreneurship or social inclusion of the poor.
The groups targeted for social change include any collection of three or more people connected by factors that include profession, location, income level or buying habits. Examples of groups include farmers, homeowners, students, building residents, members of a village, pregnant teenagers.
Social change can occur slowly, as the result of a cultural shift, or quickly, as the result of a natural disaster or change in public policy. Organizations can play a role in influencing both cultural shifts and public policy.