Magalie Marais is an Associate with the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR). She visited Vietnam in February 2011 as a guest lecturer at the University of Hanoi in partnership with La Trobe University (Melbourne).

Magalie MaraisIntegrating CSR principles with economic development could be a pathway to a sustainable national competitiveness for a country with a tradition rooted in mutual aid and solidarity.

Vietnamese people can be proud of their country. After years of military conflicts, the fight for independence and international economic alienation, Vietnam’s economic growth and the reduction in poverty are impressive by any measure.

According to the data provided by the AusAid program, since 1993 Vietnamese growth in real gross domestic product has averaged around 7.5 per cent a year and the poverty rate has been reduced from 58 per cent in 1993 to 13 per cent in 2008.

While the country’s success has been driven by its export orientation, market liberalisation and job creation in the private sector, challenges lie ahead in its efforts to maintain high growth rates and meet poverty reduction targets.

Magalie is an Associate with the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) and a guest lecturer in Business & Society and Corporate Governance at the La Trobe University (Melbourne), Graduate School of Management.

Magalie MaraisA new Insights Series paper by ACCSR – “Universities and CSR: Thought Leadership and Competitive Advantage” – highlights the growing importance of universities and education to the CSR agenda.

As a lecturer in corporate social responsibility (CSR), I am always surprised to notice the lack of knowledge of my students, undergraduate or post-graduate, about CSR. Most of them have heard of the term, but asking them to propose a definition typically draws a blank.

Suzanne YoungMagalie Marais  By Dr Suzanne Young and Magalie Marais.

Our personal and professional journeys led us during recent months to develop a research project based on a comparison of CSR reporting practices between France and Australia. Characterised by very different national institutions of governance and views of society, these two countries offer interesting insights for understanding the meaning and the stakes associated with CSR reporting at a macro and a micro-level.

A number of key conclusions have arisen from our study.

1. CSR reporting is stronger, broader and deeper and CSR practices are more transparent in France than Australia. This could be due to national characteristics such as the governance system or regulation which has made reporting mandatory. The French governance system prioritises a stakeholder perspective and may make regulation around CSR more acceptable. Regulated reporting seems to be an effective tool to enhance social progress of CSR in France.

2. Similar to other international studies, this study found that industry characteristics override national characteristics in certain high risk/impact industries.

3. Regulation may not act as just a leveller but can provide opportunities for innovation and renewed strategic considerations in regard to CSR especially in the environmental field. It creates a positive driver for innovative CSR practices for all types of industries but especially for the ones characterised by a “low level” of environmental and social risks.