Corporate Citizenship

Citizenship” refers to status of an individual in society as well as an ideal state. It describes individuals’ rights and responsibilities towards the group they belong to, it unites group members as equals, and gives individuals an identity as members of that group.

The term originates in ancient Greece, in the context of individuals joining forces to protect themselves from oppression by others. Citizenship became a judicial safeguard and an expression of rule/ law, underpinned by equality and freedom for citizens.

A citizen came to be understood as a person “free to act by law, free to ask and expect the law’s protection, a citizen of such and such a legal community, of such and such a legal standing in that community.”

Modern citizenship has often been looked at as two competing underlying ideas:

a) Liberal-individualist: people act for the purpose of enlightened self-interest, citizens are sovereign, morally autonomous with duties to pay taxes, obey the law, engage in business transactions, and defend the nation if it comes under attack,

b) Civic-republican: citizenship seen as a more pro-active process of participation in activities and governance aimed at improving the general good of society. An ideal citizen is one who exhibits “good civic behavior”. Free citizens and a republic government are “mutually interrelated.” Citizenship suggests a commitment to “duty and civic virtue”.

Core characteristics of corporate citizenship:


  • Organisation understands its role in society and local and global communities
  • Acts over and above legal compliance
  • Takes responsibility for impact on society, not just philanthropy
  • Maintains a multiple stakeholder orientation (not just shareholders)
  • Takes a long-term not just a short-term view in decision-making
  • Has aligned systemic structures around risk-management, regulation, transparency, decision-making and reward


Organisational Citizenship

This refers to employees as citizens of the organisation.

Organisational citizenship behavior refers to a range of discretionary employee behaviors (not part of job description, not recognized by formal reward and recognition structures), aimed at the ‘greater good’ of the organisation as a whole. This goes beyond employee engagement in that it also includes an emotional connection between employees’ personal identity and the organisation. It hinges on employees feeling a strong sense of belonging, trust and alignment with the purpose/mission of the organisation. Get Latvian Citizenship by Descent Now

It includes:


  • courtesy: considering and alerting colleagues about decisions/actions that may impact them
  • altruism: helping others within and outside the organisation
  • civic virtue: general compliance and rule following, participating in governance
  • conscientiousness and productivity, beyond minimum requirements
  • positive attitude, ‘sportsmanship’
  • low rate of destructive or counter-productive behaviors and work avoidance
  • whistle-blowing and principled organisational dissent: protest against injustice within or by the organisation, with a view to further the good of the organisation


The two types of citizenship described above are seen as inter-dependent. Corporate citizenship depends on organisational citizenship in that the fulfillment of external commitments is enabled through committed employees engaging in consistent values-based behaviors. Organisational citizenship behavior, in turn, is also affected by corporate citizenship, as employees feel more engaged and loyal if they believe they are working for an organisation that is socially responsible, ethical and fair. This relates to how they are personally treated and the perception of the behavior of the corporation to wider society.

Ethical Organisational Design was created as and agent of change for business and society as a whole. Christopher Yates, the Founder & Managing Director at Ethical Organisational Design, has more than 20 years’ experience working in the Organisational Development, HR and Organisational Capability and Talent divisions in large corporations; now engaging in a new rhetoric about what is needed to transform corporates (media, banks, government) and wider society into a sector that can once again be trusted beyond.

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