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The Difference Makers
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The Difference Makers

How Social and Institutional Entrepreneurs Created the Corporate Responsibility Movement 

Sandra Waddock
May 2008   320 pp   234 x 156 mm  
paperback   ISBN 978-1-906093-04-4   £21.95  

Alternative formats: eBook (ePub)   eBook (PDF)

Review copies   Inspection copies
It is not often that we have the opportunity to hear from the early pioneers of a social movement about how it grew and evolved. This book tells the stories of these social and institutional entrepreneurs and the organizations they have founded and led, largely in their own words.

“terrific … By sharing what others have done in such an accessible and even intimate way, [the author] leaves us motivated to follow their lead.”
James P. Walsh, University of Michigan Read the full Foreword

"This is a remarkable book"
William C. Frederick Read the full review

This title is available to buy as an eBook in the following DRM-free formats: 

 PDF   ePub

Preview samples   Introduction: creating a social movement   1. Making a difference

Since the 1970s, public and civil society dissatisfaction with the global power of corporations has generated a growing wave of new institutional mechanisms that attempt, in different ways, to create more accountable, responsible, and transparent businesses. These institutional mechanisms have become part of a much-larger social movement that is attempting to develop a set of constraints on business that stands in stark contrast to the dominant economic logic of maximizing shareholder wealth and growing multinational corporations’ size and power. They include business associations and alliances focused on sustainability, responsibility, and accountability, consultancies that are helping companies to behave as good corporate citizens, responsible investment entities, social research organizations, social and environmental standard setters, monitoring and reporting initiatives, and organizations focused on incorporating social issues into management education.

These new institutions would not have emerged without the work of a number of pioneering individuals: “The Difference Makers” — visionary social and institutional entrepreneurs who, together, have had a massive impact on getting decision-makers to incorporate social and environmental criteria in the strategies, practices, and purposes of the modern corporation. Thanks to these “Difference Makers”, there has been remarkable progress in advancing an alternative agenda and in creating a corporate responsibility infrastructure, particularly since the late 1980s and ’90s.

It is not often that we have the opportunity to hear from the early pioneers of a social movement about how it grew and evolved, but that is exactly what this book sets out to do. It tells the stories of these social and institutional entrepreneurs and the organizations they have founded and led, largely in their own words. The book examines 23 of the key players who have been instrumental in developing the corporate responsibility movement in North America and the UK. They include John Ruggie and the Global Compact, Allen White and the Global Reporting Initiative, John Elkington and SustainAbility, Simon Zadek and AccountAbility, Alice Tepper Marlin and Social Accountability International, Bob Dunn and Business for Social Responsibility, and Joan Bavaria and Ceres — along with many others.

The Difference Makers is a history and detailed analysis of how corporate responsibility has emerged as a key political, social, and business issue, why it has evolved so quickly, and what the visions of its thought leaders are for the future.

It will be essential reading for academics, business people and all those who are interested in the future of the corporation.

Who are the Difference Makers? (100K PDF file)


This is a remarkable book about two dozen remarkable leaders … You hear the Difference Makers tell their separate stories in their own words. And what fascinating stories they are!
Waddock skillfully weaves selected passages from their accounts in chain-like fashion to reveal the early emergence of social investing, its subsequent full-blown development, the expansion into employee, consumer, and environmental issues, the creation of global standards and human rights principles to guide corporate policy, and the literal invention of networking agencies to spread the word directly to firms, governments, educators, and the public citizenry worldwide …And this is not just dull “history” but a lively account of how these social inventors translated generalized concepts into operational systems.

As James Walsh says in the Foreword, “Sandra Waddock is a difference maker.”  Author of books and articles about corporate responsibility, former editor of the Journal of Corporate Citizenship, a recognized world authority on business-society relationships, an indefatigable worker and colleague in the struggle for workplace human rights, and a veteran of her own early struggles as a woman to gain her well-deserved professional status, Sandra Waddock clearly is a Difference Maker extraordinaire.

You owe it to yourself and to your students to get better acquainted with all two dozen Difference Makers.
William C. Frederick, July 2008 Read the full review

It’s an inspiring read to see how the personal stories formed these leaders’ life paths and allows the reader to identify with them. Author Sandra Waddock uses an interesting style interweaving the personal background of 23 leaders with how they came about to create their organizations and initiatives.
Jürgen Nagler, Business4Good Blog, 13 October 2008 Read the full blog entry about Jane Nelson


Have you ever wanted to get behind-the-scenes, first-hand stories of how the corporate responsibility (CR) movement emerged and most importantly, who are the people behind it?If yes, then The Difference Makers by Sandra Waddock is for you.In a series of interviews, the author tells the story of difference makers  visionary social and institutional entrepreneurs who developed and fostered such important initiatives as the United Nations Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative, SustainAbility, the Institute for Responsible Investment, AccountAbility, the International Business Leaders Forum, Fair Labour Association and Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship, just to name a few.

Besides giving the reader a chance to hear directly from the difference makers themselves, the book aims to address broader issues such as the concept of long-term social change and the drivers behind it as well as the role of individual in creating social movements and the vision behind these changes.To give you a full view of the creation of this social movement, the book is divided into 9 chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of CR. The difference makers, people from all walks of life, share their experience on such topics as developing sustainability reporting, assessment and analysis of corporate performance through ratings and public monitoring mechanisms as well as the origins of responsible investing and multi-stakeholder dialogue. In the last chapter, the author asks the interviewees to share their view on major obstacles to systemic change and provide insights into the corporate responsibility movements key areas for development.Rooted in the historical context, the book highlights key developments in the emergence of corporate responsibility infrastructure by examining the motivation and inspiration of 23 outstanding difference makers.

This book is recommended for those who want to get valuable insights and lessons learned from the founders of the CR movement and connect the dots in the journey that was the emergence of corporate responsibility.
Svetlana Skryagina, CSR International Book Review Digest


“terrific … Their stories inform and inspire … Reading the [last] chapter, I felt like I was sitting in Sandra’s living room listening to these people reflect on their current dreams …  I wanted to jump in and offer my own ideas. This is the ultimate power of the book. By sharing what others have done in such an accessible and even intimate way, she leaves us motivated to follow their lead.”
James P. Walsh, University of Michigan

James P. Walsh, Gerald and Esther Carey Professor of Business Administration, Professor of Management and Organizations, Professor of Strategy, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan


Introduction: creating a social movement

Sandra Waddock
This item available in PDF format for free download     Download


1. Making a difference

Sandra Waddock
This item available in PDF format for free download     Download

2. Building a different future: an emerging corporate responsibility infrastructure

3. Early inklings: social pioneering for responsible investing

4. Emerging accountability structures

5. Emerging responsibility standards

6. Transparency and common reporting

7. Networking

8. Engagement and dialogue: changing the fundamentals

9. The vision thing

Sandra Waddock is Professor of Management at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management and Senior Research Fellow at BC’s Center for Corporate Citizenship. She holds MBA and DBA degrees from Boston University and has published over 100 articles on corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship and inter-sector collaboration in journals such as The Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Executive, Strategic Management Journal, The Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Human Relations and Business and Society. Author of Leading Corporate Citizens (McGraw-Hill, 2nd edn 2006), co-editor of Unfolding Stakeholder Thinking (Greenleaf Publishing, 2002, 2003), and Learning to Talk (Greenleaf Publishing, 2004), she is a founding faculty of the Leadership for Change Program, co-founder (with Steven Lydenberg and Brad Googins) of the Institute for Responsible Investment, initiated Business Ethics’ 100 Best Corporate Citizens ranking with co-author Samuel Graves and editor Marjorie Kelly, and edited The Journal of Corporate Citizenship from 2003 to 2004. She received the 2004 Sumner Marcus Award for Distinguished Service from the Social Issues in Management Division of the Academy of Management, and the 2005 Faculty Pioneer Award for External Impact by the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program and the World Resources Institute. She has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2006–2007) and University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business (2000).