Navigating the Social Governance Gap

When business organisations become involved in contributing to and resolving social issues, they enter areas traditionally seen as the purview of governments. In doing so, they begin to take on the expectations and responsibilities of government; they become politicised. This politicisation is a product of business’s success and power and appears largely unavoidable. Adopting Matten & Crane’s (2005a) extended view of corporate citizenship, business organisations’ responsibilities extend to the administration of citizens’ social, civil and political rights. We term these areas where business organisations take over the administration of citizenship rights as the social governance gap. Drawing upon the agenda of Margolis and Walsh (2003), we seek to enhance the understanding of how business navigates its responsibilities within the social governance gap, including its function as a significant actor influencing societal development and wellbeing. We do this through an exploration of Rio Tinto’s involvement in the WA Future Fund. This paper forms part of an introductory scoping case study of the Rio Tinto WA Future fund and its function as one of Rio Tinto’s diverse responses to community development issues in Western Australia
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