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The Age of Responsibility: CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business Hardcover – 18 Feb 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 2 edition (18 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470688572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470688571
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Dr Wayne Visser is Director of the think tank Kaleidoscope Futures and Founder of CSR International. In addition, Wayne is Senior Associate at the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership and Visiting Professor of Corporate Responsibility at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in South Africa.
Wayne is the author of nineteen books, including CSR 2.0 (2013), The Quest for Sustainable Business (2012), The Age of Responsibility (2011), The World Guide to CSR (2010) and The A to Z of Corporate Social Responsibility (2010). He has also published over 150 other works (chapters, articles, etc.) and has delivered more than 200 professional speeches all around the world, with his work taking him to 65 countries in the last 20 years.
Wayne has been listed as one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior (2013), Top 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders (2012 & 2011), the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Europe & the Middle East (2011), the Top 100 CSR Leaders and the Top 20 Sustainability Leaders (2012 & 2009). He is also the recipient of the Global CSR Excellence & Leadership Award (2013), the Emerald Literati Outstanding Author Contribution Award (2011) and the Outstanding Teacher Award of the Warwick MBA (2010/11 & 2011/12).
Before getting his PhD in Corporate Social Responsibility (Nottingham University, UK), Wayne was Director of Sustainability Services for KPMG and Strategy Analyst for Cap Gemini in South Africa. His other qualifications include an MSc in Human Ecology (Edinburgh University, UK) and a Bachelor of Business Science with Honours in Marketing (Cape Town University, South Africa).
Wayne lives in London, UK, and enjoys art, nature, writing poetry and learning about new countries and cultures. A full biography and much of his writing and art is on

Product Description

Amazon Review

“Wayne Visser's The Age of Responsibility elegantly and persuasively demonstrates the limits and failures of traditional CSR and also the kinds of reforms needed to create conditions for genuine corporate responsibility. Rich with insight, information and analyses, and highly readable for its excellent writing and poignant stories, the book is a crucial contribution to understanding where we are with CSR and what we need to do to move forward.” Joel Bakan, author of The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (book and documentary film)

“Amongst the advocates of CSR as an innovative management approach, Wayne Visser is a well-known voice. This new book states more clearly than most why CSR should not be dismissed, but would benefit from some serious rethinking.” Michael Blowfied, Senior Research Fellow at Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Oxford University and author of Corporate Responsibility

The Age of Responsibility by Wayne Visser is an important book that should be studied carefully by all those seriously interested in the past, present and future of CSR. For me, the most noteworthy contribution is his “ages and stages” of CSR. Visser identifies five overlapping economic periods and classifies their stages of CSR, modus operandi, key enablers, and stakeholder targets. In forward-looking fashion, he crafts five insightful principles of CSR 2.0 and presents his DNA Model of CSR 2.0 which integrates knowledge and sets forth a more inclusive view of CSR. This book is a significant contribution to the theory and practice of CSR and it will be valued by academics and practitioners alike. I strongly recommend it.” Archie B. Carroll, Professor of Management Emeritus, Terry College of Business and author of Business and Society

“A challenging and thought provoking book. In an age when corporate responsibility is a must for most large businesses, Wayne Visser reminds us that global environmental and social pressures show little sign of receding. He asks: are we as practitioners complacent, or worse, part of the problem? There is hope and optimism but only if we are brave and bold enough to re-engineer corporate responsibility. Read on...” Yogesh Chauhan, Chairman Corporate Responsibility Group and BBC Chief Adviser Corporate Responsibility.

“An authoritative tome on the CSR movement. It provides a comprehensive framework to understand the various stages of (and motivations for) CSR in organizations and the economy to date, and a clear vision of what a truly sustainable and responsible tomorrow entails. This is an eminently well-researched and well-structured book that flows coherently with deep insights and valuable vignettes.” Willie Cheng, author of Doing Good Well: What does (and does not) make sense in the nonprofit world.

The Age of Responsibility provides a much-needed wake up call for the corporate responsibility movement. This highly readable account of where CSR has gone wrong and where it needs to go next is essential reading for anyone interested in the role business can play in creating a just and sustainable society. This is the best CSR book you'll read all year.” Andrew Crane, George R. Gardiner Professor of Business Ethics, Schulich School of Business, York University and author of Business Ethics

The Age of Responsibility breathes new life into CSR, both by redefining it as Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility and by highlighting why CSR has so far failed to make much difference in the way companies respond to pressing global challenges. In his inimitable style, using clear frameworks and illustrative case studies, Wayne Visser brings real insight to a complex set of ideas at a time when they are needed most. Bring on CSR 2.0!” Polly Courtice, Director of the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership

“In this time of seemingly widespread corporate malfeasance Wayne Visser has put his finger on why CSR has failed to deliver on its promise and what can be done to right the ship. The Age of Responsibility is a must read for anyone concerned about the future of business.” Bob Doppelt, Executive Director, The Resource Innovation Group and The Climate Leadership Initiative

“CSR 1.0 did remarkably well through the latest Great Recession, despite having precariously little to say on the big issues of the day and no ready-to-go blueprint for economic transformation. As a result, we are seeing a massive reboot going in the CSR industry--and Wayne Visser is a consistently reliable guide to (and champion of) the emerging CSR 2.0 mindsets and practices.” John Elkington, Co-Founder and Director, Volans Ventures and co-author of The Power of Unreasonable People

“It is difficult to run a sustainable business in an unsustainable world. So forget about the defensive, charitable, promotional and strategic versions of CSR. The Age of Responsibility is a call for companies to shift to CSR 2.0--where success is judged by improvements in the overall socio-cultural, economic and ecological systems. If not, CSR will continue to fail, argues Wayne Visser. With an array of cases Visser guides you through the evolution of business responsibility--from the Ages of Greed, Philanthropy, Misdirection and Management to the Age of Responsibility--and shares the five principles of sustainable business actions. Wayne Visser’s insightful book is at the same time a compelling personal story about the existential questioning of whether or how it is possible to make a difference through CSR.” Tania Ellis, international speaker, business advisor and author of The New Pioneers

“Through a concise analysis of recent economic history and through the wisdom of parables, Visser’s book offers an illuminating analysis of the heart of greed—and of the path our institutions can take to move from corporate responsibility as a form of occasional philanthropy to an ethic of responsibility that is radically transformative. Visser’s new economic myth or meta-narrative creates a compelling vision of a possible sustainable world.” Betty Sue Flowers, Professor Emerita, University of Texas at Austin and co-author of Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society

“Wayne Visser has rightly identified responsibility as one of the defining issues of our time. Executives, students and citizens should read this book, and make it an integral part of our conversation about business.” R. Edward Freeman, Director of the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, and author of Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach

“High marks for Wayne Visser who brings us a book that both challenges the conventional state of CSR in very fresh and bold fashion, and offers a provocative new vision of CSR 2.0. What is most energizing about this book is that it provides a well documented historical and analytical framework on the progression of CSR over the past century. But in analyzing the current state of CSR, it recognizes that despite amazing achievements and progress, CSR has to leap frog into a new world, one that recognizes the new DNA of business, and one that calls for a CSR 2.0 that goes far beyond the models that currently exist. The new Principles of CSR 2.0 that Visser puts at the heart of this book provide the business community and the CSR world a new path for incorporating the complexity of the social and environmental issues that confront today’s corporation, a CSR that can serve as a more transformative force for economic and social sustainability. What a refreshing and creative read! There are few books that can cut to the chase and provide a thoughtful analysis of the current state of CSR while at the same time opening up a vision for tomorrow. This is a contribution to the CSR world that is long overdue and most welcome.” Brad Googins, Associate Professor in Organisation Studies at the Carroll School of Management, and former Director of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship

“Your new book deserves to become an instant classic. It brings together so many ideas, writings, and stages in the development of CSR. It is a liberal education on the relation of business to society. I hope that it is read not only by companies but becomes a required reading in business schools to prepare business students for a higher level of thinking about their future role and impact. I am happy to endorse the book: A most impressive book! I will recommend it to every company to figure out why they are practicing CSR and how to really practice it to make a difference to their profits, people, and the planet.” Philip Kotler, S. C. Johnson and Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and author of Corporate Social Responsibility

The Age of Responsibility will change the way you think about CSR, allowing you to discard myths and to work towards a systemic view of CSR. Wayne Visser holds up a mirror to the CSR community and to business and society itself, providing a brilliant lens with which to see our past and envision a new future. Visser projects a new type of CSR he terms "CSR 2.0". The Age of Responsibility is a call to arms: inspiring, engaging and visionary.” Deborah Leipziger, author of The Corporate Responsibility Code Book and SA8000: The Definitive Guide to the New Social Standard

The Age of Responsibility and its proposed CSR 2.0--perhaps better called Systemic or Radical Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility--shows, in the same way that Natural Capitalism does, that reinventing our industrial model is not only imperative - socially, environmentally, economically and morally--but also a great opportunity for those pioneers that blaze the trail.” L. Hunter Lovins, President of Natural Capitalism Solutions and author of Natural Capitalism

“Whether corporate social responsibility has failed, or whether it is still finding its feet pending further market pull, one thing is clear: without a life-giving understanding of responsibility as the ability to respond there's no point to anything. Wayne Visser does us all a service in exploring the opportunities and challenges that such responsibility entails.” Alastair McIntosh, Professor at the Centre for Human Ecology, Strathclyde University and author of Hell and High Water

“All individuals interested in the evolution of Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility should feel compelled to join Wayne Visser in his quest to better understand why efforts to implement CSR practices have not yet yielded the desired outcomes. In The Age of Responsibility, he draws on his gift for language and storytelling to lay out the case for a new kind of CSR-CSR 2.0. Using Web 2.0 as a metaphor, Visser identifies the interconnectedness of humans in their efforts to define what the world of business should look like. The journey is thought provoking, an education on where CSR has been and where it needs to go and a story imploring the reader to seek out “a unique and invaluable way to make a difference through CSR”.” Josetta McLaughlin, Associate Professor of Management at Walter E. Heller College of Business Administration, Roosevelt University

“The good news: Business is shifting from making money in the simplest way possible, towards solving global problems and making money in the process. The bad news: Progress is slow. Wayne Visser paints the big picture using an astounding amount of detailed knowledge.” Jorgen Randers, Professor of Climate Strategy at the Norwegian School of Management and co-author of Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update


′The book is thought provoking, insightful and at the same time easy to read a must read. (, May 2011). this book is tremendously well researched and the main message is crystal clear I strongly recommend reading. (, May 2011). deeply reflective of the state of the world society, business and people who change our lives we should all read this book.   (, June 2011). offers a wealth of case studies easy to navigate and digest Visser s message is one of optimism and hope.   (, June 2011).

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By VINE VOICE on 1 April 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have read quite a lot about the recent financial collapse and feared that this would be yet another overview and analysis of these events. However, I was pleased to find that it was much more than that.

The first part of the book is a summary of various ways that firms conduct themselves. the author sees these as evolutionary stages, but whether or not you agree with that is irrelevant, because you can read without that assumption.

Stage one is Greed. The firm works solely for its own profit, and this is justified by the trickle-down theory of wealth, which, from the examples given, appears not to be working too well. There are some obscene case studies here, such as Barings, Enron, Lehman Brothers, WorldCom and even the Dutch East India Company. Although executive greed is generally mentioned here, the same greed pervades the whole company structure, financial markets and banking too.

Stage two is Philanthropy, and is exemplified by Carnegie, Rockefeller, Buffet and Bill Gates giving most of their personal fortunes back to society. This exemplifies the trickle-down theory of wealth, but is at the cost of what their companies have done to society and the environment in the first place. Also, of course, too few companies or individuals do what Gates has done: most hang on to their wealth or distribute it only to their higher ranking employees.

Stage three is Marketing. One has only to look at oil, gas and tobacco to see examples "greenwashing" the worst exploits of a company to make it appear that all is well and good. Lobbying is the primary tool used.

Stage four is Management.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Angus Jenkinson VINE VOICE on 28 Jun. 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
CSR 2.0 is more of a manifesto than a manual, but what it does it does excellently. It is packed with case studies and examples and trawls wide and deep through current and recent practice to explore practice, possibilities, ideas and vision for what CSR should (now) and could be (as we move forward). I defy the reader not to be appalled by the evidence of failure and risk and excited by the amazing things being done in the world.

Visser has credentials from mainstream and CSR consultancy and academic research and is deeply informed. That means that for anyone wanting to understand and be inspired by the current phenomena and ideas, he makes an excellent guide. He 1) analyses the ills of the world and why action and change are needed as well as 2) plotting out some themes for how this needs to happen - creativity, scalability, responsiveness, glocality, circularity. These two sections, approximately equal in length, constitute the bulk of the book and serve as seedbanks of ideas and a manifesto to act.

The last section is rather cursory and feels tacked on, pointing to some change models, methodologies and ideas and presumably hoping that the reader wanting to act will go read about or study them directly. And his suggestions are good approaches that deserve attention. I was glad to see David Gleicher's Formula for Change, for example. Perhaps the book would have benefited from building change method in from the start, although it would have made a chunky book even bigger? How and where do the Gleicher or the Scharmer principles show up in practice? The `monster matrix', which is his master model for change, is also flawed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. T. Harries VINE VOICE on 14 May 2011
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This is not a book; it is a detailed forensic analysis of management styles of the last 30-odd years. I thought myself a passably knowledgeable student of such matters, but was totally blown away by the depth and breadth of Dr Visser's treatise. It is going to take a me a long time to work my way through the twists and turns of the various aspects of Corporate Sustainability & Responsibility. Maybe I shall then have some idea of the future success chances of the concept.

On the front cover, there is a quote from Philip Kotler. in whose view, this book should be an instant classic. Kotler was one of the main marketing gurus of the 60s & 70s and I would not dream of contradicting him!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Well, it's not an easy read - it was hard work for me to get into, but the subject matter of socially responsible enterprise is certainly of great interest to me, and this book is full of insights on it.

It was slightly wider in scope to what I had expected, in that I thought it was going to be solely about companies where the social mission is a critical part of their DNA (like say, Kiva) as opposed to companies that practise some form of social responsibility/philanthropy but on the side in a way that isn't mission critical and of equal importance to the business of making a profit (like say, Goldman Sachs who donate quite generously to social causes and charities). This book covers both types, as well as a few others, and attempts to analyse the history and current state of corporate social responsibility, and then attempts to provide a manifesto for the future.

Overall I'd say it's a very relevant, and perhaps even important book (and even fascinating - once engrossed in it). Most importantly, I like the fact that in addition to casting an honest and critical eye over the current state, the book is fundamentally optimistic and hopeful for the future - and actually useful in terms of trying to provide answers instead of just supplying a critique.
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