Community and Corporate Engagement: Is your Organisation an ‘engager’ or an ‘enrager’?

The world is a rapidly changing place and it is a whole new ball game from not so many years past.


Populations across the globe, in geographical regions and countries, as well as, at the local, suburb and street level want more influence in government and corporate decision-making, particularly in matters that directly impact upon their financial security and daily lives. They want their voice to be heard!

Hearing, or not hearing, the voice of the community places the organisation in one of two categories:

The engagers or the enragers!

Governments and corporations that ignore this need are being harangued like never before – yet some of these institutions continue with the same old outmoded decision systems that exclude the community from the decision process – but stick them with the consequences.

When challenged, some governments and corporations often circle the wagons and sit out the storm.

Others are more subtle by directly ‘influencing’ the community conversation about the corporation.

Such behaviour camouflages the discontent, it does not engage!

What seems to be continually overlooked is that neither the public nor private sector organisation can survive without the support of the wider population. We see this around the globe today.

If history shows us anything, it is that engagers survive and prosper and enragers fail – sometimes spectacularly.

Who said: have your friends close and your enemies even closer! Better still, have no enemies!

Computer-based decision systems are so sophisticated now that communities from around the corner or from around the globe can be engaged in the very same decision process – and without leaving the comfort of their lounge. Thus, there is no impediment to engaging with one’s community.

How ‘engaged’ or ‘enraged’ is your client community? And, how do we measure it?

Local councils, for example, are required to survey their constituents each year on a range of measures. A rough model of the measures is presented in the figure below.

Our research suggests that a sense of engagement is predicated on the strategic alignment of the elements in the above model. Amongst other things, the community wants to see that fiscal integrity has prevailed and that their voice has been heard toward that end.

Our research also indicates that some research methodologies followed in surveying engagement may well benefit from a higher degree of methodological rigor. What’s more, those same findings suggest that engagement surveys need to be conducted over multiple years to not only identify trends, but to also to address the inbuilt ‘lag effect’.

So: Is your organisation an engager or an enrager? And, if the latter, how do you fix it?

Oh: and how did you measure that?

4 thoughts on “Community and Corporate Engagement: Is your Organisation an ‘engager’ or an ‘enrager’?

  • Petina,
    Your point is spot on! The relationship is not easy because most corporates just don’t understand the social enterprise sector. And, the social enterprise sector does not understand (some say, does not want to understand) the corporate sector. The relationship is also a very long journey because both parties don’t have a roadmap for discourse. The relationship is values-driven – not commercial benefit driven! But, commercial benefits flow to each party when they are mutually values-driven! Neither party is the enemy – they both need each other! The relationship can be more efficiently and commercially engaged when the dialogue is of mutaul benefit. But, each party needs to ‘educate’ the other on the dialogue that works for them. From my experience in the USA, they are far more effective at this than most. Generally, corporate advances are clumsy (unlike a few decades past), they have lost experience in this area. And, as one big corporate executive responsible for community engagement recently wrote, our focus and efforts are on guiding the community engagement conversation. To me, that says a lot about that corporation.
    Hope this helps

    Comment from: Strategic Outcomes

  • Can corporations fully engage with the social enterprise sector? The relationship between the social enterprise and corporate sector is not easy – it stands at the beginning of a long journey with much learning to be done on all sides. Both can see the merits of the engagement but both are wary. From the corporate side there is the understandable question of what’s in it for them – aside from a bit of positive PR. Social enterprises, on the other hand, question the sincerity of corporate advances. However, for this sector to grow, the two sides need to find a way to work together. Your thoughts?

    Comment from: Petina

  • One area where we see good corporate engagement is in natural disaster response. CE has grown significantly in both scale and diversity during the last decade. Today, it is a central component of the international response machinery. Since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, large multinational corporations have become increasingly involved in on-the-ground response efforts, forming partnerships with traditional actors and with each other to enhance operating systems and to develop more rigorous strategic thinking in preparation for disaster assistance.

    Comment from: Cathy Medhurst

  • There are a number of ways our people seek to make a difference: through financial support, volunteering endeavors, and partnerships with nonprofit organizations worldwide.

    Comment from: Steve Goldman

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