Social Responsibility in the Forest Products Industry

I have written in another blog post about the ORI website’s case study on authorship and intellectual property, this post will discuss an article I found about social responsibility within the forest products industry. The article is entitled “Corporate Social Responsibility in Forestry” and was authored by Panwar and Hansen (2008).

The article defines corporate social responsibility as the idea that a business has a responsibility to give back and improve society. The authors then argue that the level of social responsibility expected of a business depends on a country’s standard of living and level of economic development. For example, they state that “Societal expectations of business responsibilities broaden as a society passes through the phases of economic development.” The authors also argue that larger businesses are more likely to be involved in social responsibility than small businesses because of the costs involved in social responsibility efforts.

The authors build upon their argument by saying that the scope of what is part of social responsibility can be different between developed and developing countries. In developing countries without strong safety and labor laws, the authors state that social responsibility may include safety regulations and child labor laws. In contrast, in more developed countries social responsibility may focus more on environmental issues.

In order to make social responsibility effective for the forest products industry and also address a specific area’s needs, the authors suggest that businesses use an “issues management” approach. This involves “interviewing key stakeholders to identify issues that they consider important and worthy of managerial attention.” The second step of this approach is to then ask a focus group of “neutral and informed participants answer questions and give controlled feedback … to refine the list of issues generated via interviews.” Applied to the forest products industry, the authors list the following social and environmental issues:

Social issues
• Encourage public scrutiny of environmental and land management practices
• Invest in surrounding communities
• Promote responsible consumption among consumers
• Stem declining employment in the sector
• Engage with surrounding communities
• Improve industry’s public image

Environmental issues
• Promote sustainable forestry practices
• Increase the use of renewable resources
• Adopt environmentally sound purchasing policies
• Mitigate global warming
• Reduce overall energy consumption
• Improve waste management

 This article was interesting to me because it demonstrated how the concept of social responsibility can be adapted to meet the needs of specific industries. For the forest products industry this means meeting local needs related to both social and environmental issues. It is also interesting and important to consider how the forest industry will have to meet different needs across different parts of the world.

 Source:

Panwar, R., & Hansen, E. (2008). Corporate social responsibility in forestry. Unasylva230(59), 45-48.

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Code of Conducts within the Forest Products Industry: The South African Institute of Forestry

While it was difficult to find a code of conduct or ethics related to my discipline of the forests products industry, the South African Institute of Forestry provides a good example. The code of ethics consists of 10 statements that outline the values and purpose of the professional organization. The code of conduct states the desire to benefit the forest products industry (“uphold the dignity and reputation of the industry”), as well as society as a whole (“Have the public interest at heart in all matters”). The code of conduct also values the pursuit of truth and knowledge. This is demonstrated by the statement, “Strive to disseminate a true understanding of the forest and forest product industry.”

In addition to containing broad, mission statement sentences, the code of conduct provides specific guidelines for how to act when engaging in activity related to the forest products industry. For example, the code of conduct directs individuals to clearly state whose authority they are acting in when issuing statements on forest product policy or technical matters, to base one’s testimony as an expert witness on “adequate knowledge of the subject matter,” and to “clearly set out the possible consequences” if one’s professional judgment is “overruled by a non-technical authority.”

I found this code of conduct interesting for several reasons. First, I was impressed by the wide range of topics and values it covers in only 10 sentences. This code of conduct’s focus on the pursuit and knowledge reminded me of our earlier discussion of university mission statements and my prior blog comparing two university mission statements. The professional code of conduct’s “Strive to disseminate a true understanding” seemed similar in some ways to UW-Madison’s mission statement sentences about the pursuit of knowledge.

Finally, I appreciated how the South African Forest Industry’s code of conduct had a wide scope that covered the impact and responsibility that the individual professional has on the forest products industry, as well as the impact and responsibility that the industry has on society. I appreciated the wide range of relationships that the code of conduct covered in this way.

Source:

South African Institute of Forestry. (n.d.). Code of Ethics. Retrieved March 11, 2015, from http://www.saif.org.za/index.php?page=code-of-ethics

ORI Case Study: My Lab Boss Puts His Name on My Papers and Proposals

While none of the case studies listed in the ORI scholarly integrity website used my discipline of the wood products industry as part of its example, several of the case studies still had important themes that apply to my discipline. I chose to review the Case One: My Lab Boss Puts His Name on My Papers and Proposals. This case study focuses on a PhD student named Anna who “has some difficulty writing scientific papers in appropriate and nuanced English” and so “typically asks colleagues to review and help edit her writing.” Anna conducts research where there is a “strong publish or perish culture” and where people are given greater respect if they publish often. The problem is that after Anna receives back edits on her research, those who helped edit her work have included their names in the list of authors. In addition, her lab boss has put his name on her work as well as on a proposal she has prepared for funding without even discussing this with her.

 Standards of authorship criteria, intellectual property, and professional courtesy are all involved in this situation. Anna’s peers may be motivated to attach their names to the list of authors because of the referenced “publish or perish culture”. Her fellow post doctorates may feel that attaching their names to more papers will allow them to build their resume and increase their chance of getting a faculty position. Her lab boss may similarly feel that increasing the number of papers published with his name will increase his chance to get tenure or will increase his standing at his institution and in the larger academic community. The power differential is worse between Anna and her lab boss, because it is more difficult to confront one’s supervisor, especially when as a post doctorate fellow Anna has less employment protection and security than her boss.

 To correct this, there are some things that Anna could do individually as well as some things that her institution could to do to respect intellectual property. Anna’s institution could help prevent the stealing of authorship by drafting and publishing an institutional policy on “authorship criteria” and intellectual property that lists what contributions do and do not merit someone being listed as an author in a research paper. This policy could similarly list what would instead merit someone being listed in an acknowledgements section. Most authorship criteria state that someone should make a “substantial contribution” to the original research to be listed as an author. It does not appear that Anna’s boss would pass this test. Anna’s institution could also set consequences for punishing those that have violated intellectual property policy.

 Anna could also take some steps to address this problem. Before giving her research paper to another to edit, she should make it clear that in return she is willing to thank that person within the paper’s acknowledgment’s section but will not allow that person to be listed as an author. If the person still returns her draft with their name as an author, Anna can then fairly strike the name and include it only within the acknowledgements section. With her lab boss the situation is more difficult. Anna should be direct with her boss and say that she will not allow for her boss’s name to be included as an author unless he makes large contributions to the research itself. She should also say that it violates her rights to add his name to her proposals for funding and then send them without her knowledge or consent. She can rightly threaten to report him to campus officials if this occurs again, and then do so if this problem does repeat.

 I have thankfully not yet had as a similar situation happen to me. However, because I am a non-native English speaker I also seek and appreciate the help of peers in editing my research papers. This allowed me to relate to the case study and see how it could easily apply within my discipline of the forest products industry. After reading this case study, I am now better prepared to confront this type of problem if I am ever faced with it.

 Source:

http://ori.hhs.gov/blog/case-study-my-lab-boss-puts-his-name-my-papers-and-proposals

Challenging the mission of higher education

My prior post focused on the university mission statements of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Istanbul University. Since then, the issue of what should be the focus of higher education has been the topic of much debate in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a mission statement, which is part of state law, for the entire state’s university system of four and two year campuses. This mission statement is called the Wisconsin Idea, and as shown in the original text of Source 1. In some ways similar to UW Madison’s mission statement, the Wisconsin Idea places great emphasis on diversity (“a system of higher education which enables students of all ages, backgrounds and levels of income”) and on the importance of searching for knowledge and learning about and sharing ideas across cultures.

Recent controversy over the mission statement for the state’s higher education system came when the office of state governor Scott Walker proposed changes to the mission statement. Also as shown in the changes indicated in Source 1, the proposed changing that cut such language as “serve … society,” “improve the human condition,” and “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.” Instead, the changes include adding new language about the need to “meet the state’s workforce needs.” When these changes received attention in the news, the state governor and university officials debated whether the main purpose of higher education should be related specifically to job placement. Governor Walker in defending the proposed changes argued that, “Learning’s important, but ultimately it’s most important for people to get the chance to get the education they need to succeed in the workforce and in life” (Source 2). University officials disagreed and argued that the focus of higher education should be broader and should also focus on increasing knowledge and the values of individuals and of society overall.

At present, Governor Walker has decided to not pursue making the proposed changes because of the negative news that followed the proposed changes. However, the debate that surfaced highlights the competing views that still exist related to what the purpose of higher education should be. How those with decision making ability view this will affect the organization, structure, and content of both coursework and research. While placing graduates in jobs and having faculty research directly relate to growing the economy is important, valuing this above all other factors would largely change how higher education has traditionally been viewed in the U.S. and has the risk of ignoring the other personal and societal growth and benefits related to higher education.

Sources:

Universities’ Mission Statements

“The mission of Istanbul Technical University (ITU) as a research university competing in the international arena without being constrained by the national boundaries, is to continue teaching, education and R&D activities as well as contributing to the international knowledge by reaching the advanced knowledge rather than only improving the quality of teaching and research activities.”

(http://www.itu.edu.tr/en/about-itu/general/vision-and-mission)

Istanbul, Turkey.

The University of Istanbul is located Turkey’s post populous city, with a city population totaling 14.2 million people. The university is spread across five campuses with 76,000 undergraduate and 12,000 graduate students. As highlighted by ITU’s emphasis on “competing in the international arena without being constrained by national boundaries” and “contributing to international knowledge”, the university’s mission statement largely focuses on its and its students’ place in the world at large. Given that there are not many universities in Turkey delivering education to non-native Turkish students or conducting intercultural higher education, ITU’s mission statement shows the university’s confidence in its diversity and in its global reach. The mission statement may also indicate that the university wants to be considered elite among other nations’ universities. In addition, this focus on global competitiveness may suggest that the university places a high priority in placing its students in jobs across the world after they graduate.

“The primary purpose of the University of Wisconsin–Madison is to provide a learning environment in which faculty, staff and students can discover, examine critically, preserve and transmit the knowledge, wisdom and values that will help ensure the survival of this and future generations and improve the quality of life for all. The university seeks to help students to develop an understanding and appreciation for the complex cultural and physical worlds in which they live and to realize their highest potential of intellectual, physical and human development.”

(http://www.wisc.edu/about/leadership/mission.php)

Madison, WI USA

 

UW-Madison is located in Madison, Wisconsin, the state capital with a population of over 240,000. The campus includes nearly 30,000 undergraduate and nearly 12,000 graduate students. UW-Madison’s mission statement states its aim to “improve the quality of life for all” and then cites sustainability (to “ensure the survival of … future generations). This shows a commitment to the environment and peace. It also suggests that the time one spends in higher education does not only affect those years but also can influence or improve our future by getting involved within one’s local and/or global community. This mission statement also highlights a desire to build cultural diversity (“appreciation for the complex cultural … worlds”). For example, having students from all around the world helps others see new opportunities as well as new perspectives that would otherwise would not have been considered, and these can help inspire new ideas. In the rest of the mission the main idea is underlying still for the quality of life for all.

Are the mission statements similar? Different?

While the locations and size of the universities’ home cities and the size their student populations differ, the universities share some similarities across their mission statements. Istanbul Technical University’s and UW-Madison’s mission statements are similar in the way that they both have international goals and appear focused on how their university and its students interact in, and engage with, the outside world. However, for Istanbul Technical University this international feels more competitive to achieve the university’s goals. Meanwhile, UW-Madison already has a diverse student body with a moderate number of students from all around the world, and instead of focusing on competing with other university’s and nation’s there is instead a forward-looking focus on increasing understanding and on managing the bond between students and their communities.