October 2012

Date Archive

accsr-2443 Leeora BlackAn international colleague and long term Australia-watcher recently wrote to me to ask if we should be happy or sad about the demise of Gunns, Australia’s largest listed forestry company. I said it’s more complicated than that.

Gunns first came on to my radar as a PhD student researching corporate social responsibility in Australian companies more than a decade ago. I interviewed many managers involved in developing CSR at their companies. Usually it was me asking the questions, but on one occasion, my interviewee asked me -‘do you follow Gunns?’. It was the litmus test of whether I was in her eyes, a true CSR-nik and not just an ivory tower academic type. Gunns is the darling of the stock market, she informed me, but it logs old growth forests and poisons native wild life and local water courses in its management of its plantation forests.

We are more creative, more productive, and feel more rewarded when we work against a clear immediate problem. HBR says.


Possibly because we haven’t changed that much in the last 50,000 years.

In fact we have the same brains that we used for hunting mammoths. We have of course created and have available more information than ever before. But the processes by which certain stimuli trigger the chemical reactions in our brains that eventually fuel our will to act – are just as primitive as when our greatest challenge was to avoid starvation for one more day. That is why we all still enjoy games: there is a clear objective which keeps our natural short attention span focused, is attainable in the very near future, and success is immediately celebrated.