Being responsible means being able to provide answers. Therefore, understanding the context is a key ability of organizations. The environment can be described in terms of issues and stakeholders. Here is an easy-to-use and useful tool to map issues related to social responsibility:
It is a two-variables matrix:
- The type of issue
- The status of activation of the issue
- Generic: related to the larger economic, social and environmental context;
- Related to the value chain: linked to the externalities (positive and negative) of the core activities;
- Related to the competitive context: may directly affect the possibility to operate.
The activation status measures how critical is the issue looking at his presence in the public agenda. This classification is proposed by Crable and Vibbert (1985) and consists of five phases of an issue lifecycle: potential, imminent, current, critical, dormant.
The different issues can be mapped and classified using this matrix, make it simpler to read the competitive context and set up the necessary answer strategies.
It goes without saying that the social issues evolve continuously and therefore the map must be updated.
By Marcello Coppa
Managing partner, Anteprima LAB, Italy
Global Affiliate, The Center for Global Public Relations