Policy - what's out there?

Since coming to Kenya and formalizing my interest and study of international development, I find myself from time to time sounding like a carbon copy of a member of the opposite political party (I’ll try and keep this general in an effort to keep my personal politics out of the picture).  When people ask me about how to “fix” development or what’s working/not working, I realize that my thoughts on the subject sound very much like the political rhetoric that so frustrates me when referenced in a different context (say in regards to the public vs. private healthcare debate).

I don’t think this means the smarter I get, the more I realize I’ve been duped by my political identity, but rather that there is much more room for a blending of philosophies and political approaches in trying to fix things, whatever sort of things, than any of us like to acknowledge.  When it comes to problems solving - there’s often no room for politics of any sort – though as people we so appreciate the identity we find in our ideologies that we have to drag them into whatever forum we can – regardless of the global or societal expense.  I fear that sometimes this means good solutions and opportunities are bypassed because they carry too much political identity to be looked at simply for what they are.

As many of my internal ponderings do, this train of thought led me to the role politics play on a broader scale in regards to CSR – and how little I really know about the direct influence ideologies and policies have on companies’ efforts.  Of course it is political powers that dictate the various rules and regulations that corporations must follow in terms of the environment, taxes, governance and how some of these act as virtual CSR enforcers.  But how do such policies create or discourage a culture in which a company can really embrace an opportunity to do business the right way?  Are there enough policies that motivate good works and operations?  Are their any that discourage them, that if removed would make it that much easier for corporations to make good, positive choices for the benefit of society at large?   And finally, how partisan are these policies – and if they are, is that partisanship getting in the way of their intentions?

I'd love to hear from the Justmeans community on these questions and any other thoughts people have regarding the role and influence of politics in CSR.