Creating Social Value Blog / Corporate Social Relevance

The Growing Field of Corporate Social Innovation

Earlier this year, Senior Fellows in Social Innovation Bradley Googins and Philip Mirvis released a white paper for The Conference Board looking at the growing field of Corporate Social Innovation (CSI). This white paper, The New Business of Business: Innovating for a Better World, identifies three interlocking challenges businesses face today: “shareholder demands for growth, employee desire for meaning from work, and rising public expectations that they address social, economic, and environmental challenges,” and explores how those challenges unite to drive CSI.

So what exactly is Corporate Social Innovation? Brad and Phil define it as:

A strategy that combines a unique set of corporate assets (innovation capacities, marketing skills, managerial acumen, employee engagement, scale, etc.) in collaboration with other sectors and firms to co-create breakthrough solutions to complex economic, social, and environmental issues that bear on the sustainability of both business and society.

But perhaps one of the clearest ways to show what they mean by CSI is this comparison to traditional Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):

What Makes CSI Different? 
Traditional CSR Corporate Social Innovation
Philanthropic Intent Strategic Intent
Money, Manpower R&D, Corporate Assets
Employee Volunteerism Employee Development
Contracted Service Providers NGO/Government Partners
Social and Eco-Services Social and Eco-Innovations
Social Good Sustainable Social Change


Understanding that moving from Traditional CSR to CSI is not a process that happens overnight, their report outlines core building blocks to successful CSI work, shares lessons learned from past programs, and outlines seven starter steps for how a company might begin to embed a culture of CSI within its organization and across its value chain. To learn more about Brad and Phil or download the full report, visit their profile pages on our website: and