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WEB 2.0 & ACCOUNTABILITY - Web 2.0 & Accountability

Title | Goal | Description | Background | Outputs | Timeline | Project Researchers
Staff Lead | Funders |

Title - Web 2.0 & Accountability

Goal - A mapping of web 2.0 applications that are or could be used as a form of interactive accountability between companies and their stakeholders in society.

Description - This project involves scoping research to map the forms and usages of web 2.0 applications that might most beneficially be used to enhance interactive accountability between companies and their stakeholders.  It will focus on identifying and assessing web 2.0 applications that are:

  1. already being used as a means for accountability, with what level of success;
  2. already being applied in the wider context of CSR but could be used to enhance corporate accountability as well;
  3. already being applied beyond the context of CSR but could be applied within the CSR field and specifically to enhance corporate accountability;
  4. not currently being used but suggest themselves as possible innovations to the benefit of enhanced corporate accountability.
The project is being undertaken with advice from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.  Based on the findings from the research, the CSR Initiative will assess, in consultation with the Berkman Center, which of the forms and uses of web 2.0 applications identified may warrant further exploration, propagation and/or development through additional project work.

Background - Web 2.0 applications – interactive web-based resources and communities such as Wikipedia, Facebook and Flickr – have had a significant role in empowering individuals to network and share knowledge, ideas and resources.  Their use for social and activist organizing is well-known and has become an effective means of galvanizing campaigns.  As such, these applications can be an accountability tool employed by civil society groups against companies deemed to be acting inappropriately.

Much less explored is the role web 2.0 applications might play as a means of interactive engagement and accountability between companies and their stakeholders in society – a vehicle in which both sides have an interest in engaging.  Early emerging examples of this mutually beneficial use of web 2.0 for enhanced accountability are as:

  1. a means for a company to gain feedback from its stakeholders on what issues are seen as material for inclusion in its social responsibility report.
  2. a platform to invite stakeholders to innovate ideas for social investment projects that would link to a company’s core activities. 
  3. an information-sharing platform about the mechanisms, organizations and experts that can facilitate dispute resolution between companies and their stakeholders
This project aims to develop a clearer understanding of these and other uses of web 2.0 applications, their merits, and possible future innovations in support of corporate accountability.

Outputs - A written report for CSRI:

  1. summarizing the landscape of how web 2.0 applications are being used in ways that are applicable to the advancement of interactive corporate accountability (meaning forms of accountability that engage both companies and their stakeholders);
  2. analyzing what applications, or potential innovations based on current applications, are (a) most likely to advance this agenda and (b) most likely to be scaleable across companies and sectors.

Timeline - July to December 2009

Project Researchers - Bill Baue, Senior Researcher and Co-Director of Sea Change Media. Marcy Murningham, Senior Researcher

Staff lead - Caroline Rees, Director of Governance and Accountability Program

Funders - CSRI


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